UMW and PICUM Launch Report on Women Migrant Workers
On March 1, United Methodist Women’s Immigrant/Civil Rights Initiative and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) issued the report “The Exploitation of Undocumented Migrant Women in the Workplace.”
The report was released on the occasion of the UN-Commission on the Status of Women in New York as part of the “Beijing +15” review of the Beijing Platform for Action following a workshop organized by the two organizations during the Peoples’ Global Action (PGA) on Migration, Development and Human Rights in Athens, Greece, Nov. 2009.
The report was launched at an NGO side event on “Women, Migration, and Global Turmoil—Organizing a Collective Response” organized by the Gender Caucus of the People’s Global Action, including Migrant Rights International, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, PICUM and United Methodist Women. Concerns of Migrant Women intersect many of the Beijing Platform areas of concern, as well as the Millennium Development Goals, which are under review at the UN inter-governmental session.
The report relates the experiences of migrant women in Europe, the Middle East, and the US, as well as organizing strategies. Despite the many positive experiences of female migration, significantly fewer paths are available for women to legally migrate for employment and as a result, migrant women may find themselves trapped in exploitative and coercive conditions. Once in an irregular situation, migrant women are dramatically overrepresented in gender-defined jobs with precarious working conditions, low pay and exposure to violence.
Susceptible to heightened gender-based segregation in the workplace, undocumented migrant women are often employed in individualised or isolated work environments such as the agricultural sector, domestic sphere, food processing, cleaning and catering industries where there are fewer opportunities for worker solidarity and visibility.
Adopting a global perspective, the report explores specific vulnerabilities facing undocumented women workers as well as strategies that have successfully served to protect and empower them. The report explores the role of the unions, social networks, solidarity movements and undocumented women themselves in addressing labor-based exploitation and empowering female workers with an irregular status.