With more than 52 per cent of the 33 million international migrants in South-Eastern, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (SEEECA) being female, IOM recognizes that our objective of safe, orderly, and regular migration can only be met if gender equality is applied across all our work. A person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) shape every stage of the migration experience, from the reasons to migrate, who migrates and to where, how people migrate and the networks they use, opportunities and resources available at destinations, and relations with the country of origin. Risks, vulnerabilities and needs are also shaped in large part by one’s gender, and often vary drastically for different groups.
Given the gender-specific nature of migration, the following are central to IOM’s work:
- advocating for equal rights under the law in employment and mobility;
- combatting discriminatory migration practices;
- understanding how gender affects the types of migration undertaken;
- responding to how gender influences access to social and health services, economic growth, capacities, risks and vulnerabilities;
- ensuring diversity and inclusiveness in consultations and participation in activities; and
- addressing how migration influences gender roles and relations.
As the entire United Nations system strengthens its reporting focus on gender equality, IOM’s policies and endeavours also promote results reporting in relation to gender equality. Since 2012, IOM has committed to implementing the UN System-Wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-SWAP), an accountability framework that applied to the entire UN system.
At IOM, we value and actively promote diversity. It is one of the strengths that enables us to better rise to the complex challenges of migration. As an organisation we have implemented a number of measures to increase gender equality and the empowerment of women, yet there is no room for complacency.
Moreover, the IOM Regional Director (RD) for the SEEECA region in Vienna, Renate Held, has joined 26 Heads of international organizations, Heads of permanent missions, and civil society entities in Vienna, as an International Gender Champion (IGC). The IGC hub in Vienna gives the Regional Director the opportunity to highlight her unwavering support on gender issues, and her commitment to the Parity Pledge.
RO Vienna is also an active member of the Issue-Based Coalition (IBC) on Gender Equality for UN Europe and central Asia region; as well as to the Vienna Based Organizations network on Gender and Women’s Empowerment.
RO Vienna’s work is guided by the IOM’s Gender Coordination Unit (GCU) based at its headquarters in Geneva. The gender focal point in the RO Vienna is the Sr. Regional Liaison and Policy Officer, Amr Taha.