United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women
New York, 23 April, 1996

Expert Group Meeting on Violence Against Women Migrant Workers

I. Introduction

1. The General Assembly, concerned by the continuing reports of violence committed against women migrant workers and the need for States concerned, specifically, the sending and the receiving States to conduct regular consultations for the purpose of identifying problem areas adopted resolution 50/168 on Violence against women migrant workers. In order to elaborate possible recommendationsto address the problem, the Assembly requested the Secretary-General to convene an expert group meeting with the participation of the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on violence against women, to submit recommendations for improving coordination of the various United Nations agencies on the issue of Violence against women and to develop concrete indicators as basis for determining the situation of women migrant workers, and to report to the General Assembly at its fifty-first session.

2. In compliance with the above mentioned resolution, and in response to an invitation by the Government of Philipines, the Division for the Advancement of Women, on behalf of the Secretary-General, is organizing an Expert Group Meeting in Manila from 27 to 31 May 1996 to consider the issue and develop recommendations.

II. Background

3. Issues relating to migrant women have been a concern for some time at both national and international levels. Problems faced by migrant women are found in the programmes or plans of action adopted at the various international fora. The Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women included the issue as one of its areas of special concern. In the Platform for Action adopted at the Beijing Conference in 1995, the chapter on violence against women refers to women migrant workers as a group which requires special attention because they are particularly vulnerable to violence.

4. The issue of violence against women migrant workers has also become a matter of concern to the General Assembly and the Commission on the Status of Women, as indicated by numerous resolutions on the subject. In response to requests by the Assembly and the Commission, the Secretary-General has prepared several reports setting out issues related to violence against women migrant workers, including factors affecting their vulnerability. These reports also contained, inter alia, limited information received from the Member States on measures taken as well as from the Special Rapporteur on Violence against women and the Specialized agencies.

6. The reports suggested that information on the extent of the problem is limited. Statistics on violence against women generally not compiled regularly and their accuracy is often highly variable. Similarly, statistics about women migrant workers as a group are also limited. However, the growing evidence that violence against women in the family and in society is widespread, universal and possibly growing suggests that women migrant workers are also likely to be victims of violence, especially when, as in a number of circumstances, their employment situation, coupled with their status as foreigners, leaves them particularly vulnerable.

7. Available information on labour movements in the context of globalization suggests that migration of women workers is growing and likely to continue. They will be subject to many of the same situations of violence as women in the receiving countries, made more acute by the type of work undertaken by women migrant workers and the difficulties caused by their status as migrants.

8. Women migrant workers, who generally migrate under contract for work in other countries with an intention to return to their own countries, constitute a particular category of persons whose status is of concern to both sending and receiving countries. When the migration takes place under conditions of illegality, it becomes related to trafficking and produces particular vulnerabilities to violence. Both circumstances require policy measures in both sending and receiving countries.

III. Objectives

10. The expert group should review information on the situation of women migrant workers, existing national and international policies and legislation, existing programmes to address the problems and from this make recommendations to sending and receiving countries, as well as to the United Nations system, in order to address the problems identified. As requested by the General Assembly the Expert Group Meeting should draft recommendations for improving coordination of the various efforts of the United Nations agencies on the issue of violence against migrant women workers, to develop concrete indicators as basis for determining the situation of women migrant workers, and to recommend possible measures to improve the reporting procedure.

IV. Participants

13. The expert group meeting will be attended by 6-8 experts appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as by observers from Governments, organizations of the United Nations system, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The experts will be drawn from a variety of fields and include experts who have published on the various topics from an international and regional perspectives, research and training institutes, non-governmental organizations, practitioners from the public and private sectors. In selecting the experts, the criteria of geographical balance will be respected though emphasis will be placed in sending and receiving countries. The United Nations will provide travel and daily subsistence allowance for the experts. The experts will be invited to prepare written contributions in advance of the meeting, dealing with specific issues within their own area of expertise.

V. Documentation

14. The documentation for the meeting will include a background paper prepared by the Division for the Advancement of Women on the issue from the United Nations perspective and working papers by the experts on the various topics, already defined. Observers will also be invited to contribute inputs from their own perspectives. The Expert Group Meeting will be conducted in English. The documentation will also be in English.

For further information please contact:

Division for the Advancement of Women
Department Economic and Social Affairs
United Nations
2, United Nations Plaza
Room DC2-1270
New York, NY 1001
Tel: (212) 963-3171/3168 Fax: (212) 963-3463