Saturday, September 20, 2008

Virtual Discussion on Gender, Migration, Remittances and Development

"From 8 September to 3 October 2008, UN-INSTRAW is hosting a Virtual Discussion on "Gender, Migration, Remittances and Development: Towards a Participatory Research Framework." More than 90 experts, academics and researchers from over 20 countries will come together online to discuss international migration and development from a gender perspective."

I have noticed in recent years that "gender" seems the only trigger in influential circles in western politics concerning migrants. Personally it gets me a little uneasy when I see migrant women used by dutch political parties to say to things:

1: Migrant women are not treated well by their male counterparts.

2: Migrants shouldn't complain about representation, there are well educated migrant women that can get into the circles of power.

I find democratic development too important to be totally eclipsed by this "gender" issue.

the first week of discussion had a good outcome:

Putting the Migrant First
Many participants suggested that to remedy the above mentioned problems the migrant must be put at the center of the discussion. There was some regret that current migration studies focus on remittances and not the migrant. Giving migrants a more central role can avoid their instrumentalization as mere ‘pawns of development’. It was suggested that if the migrant is at the center of the discussion there is little distinction between the two approaches to development outlined in the Working Paper. The importance to ensure that migrants have a voice in the media and at the national and international levels was stressed. Little attention was given to gender.

Related to the efforts to put migrants first in the dialogue about migration and development is the desire to see the scope of the discussion expanded from a focus on origin countries to include the destination countries as well. The ‘development community’ was criticized for focusing on remittances and ignoring the destination countries’ role, which has made the lives of migrants difficult and more precarious. It was stressed that the rights of migrants are the responsibility of communities of origin and destination. There was some enthusiasm for co-development (the synchronization of migration policies of the destination county with the development policy of countries of origin that includes the participation of migrants.) But it was emphasized that migrants need to participate in the planning of these policies; their participation should not be limited to only implementation. A participant warned that co-development can’t be expected to solve the problem of the instrumentalization of migrants as it doesn’t necessarily care about their personal experiences.

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