Geneva - Family migration represents one of the main channels of entry for migrants, and migrant families contribute greatly to the development of both origin and destination countries through their human, cultural and economic potential, according to research studies.
However, stakeholders say that there is a gap in the family reuniting process and in recognizing the family´s contribution to the development of a country in the course of migration. Migration is a family decision and lack of gender-friendliness in migration often hinders family reunification, they said.
Speaking at a talk program on ´Migration and Families´ organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Bience Gawanas, an advisor to the government of Namibia, said, ´Migration can empower women but it always comes as a cost of not being there as a mother or wife or sibling.´ She stressed that there needs to be respect for the gender roles in the family which can help mitigate the rate of family migration.
Conference on ‘Migration and Families’ organized by the International Organization for Migration under way in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday. (Shreejana Shrestha/Republica)
Addressing the conference, IOM Director General William Lacy Swing said women, children and elderly people are vulnerable groups in the course of family migration. He also stressed the need of including migration in the post-2015 development agenda.
The United Nations General Assembly, realizing the crucial role of family in fostering human development, has called for the promotion of family policy development when setting out the post-2015 development agenda..
Eleonore Kofman, professor of gender, migration and citizenship at Middlesex University, UK, opined that one must be careful and not put the blame on women because several problems arise when women migrate..
According to an IOM research paper, ´The potential for families to contribute to development is often reduced as a result of challenging migration experiences.´ It adds that there is a need of greater attention to coherent policy in a bid to better access the potential of the family unit in the international migration discourse, including the potential impact on individual family members and society overall.
The participants stated that policy makers in the respective countries and destinations face the difficult task of identifying mechanisms and appropriate policies to promote economic development through migrant contributions while ensuring adequate protection for the well-being of migrants and members of their families. The participants also discussed how gender is mainstreamed into migration policies and debates.
Issues like the effects of migration on family members remaining at home, social cost of migration, impact on gender relations within families, particularly with regard to children and the elderly, multiple role of youths in family migration, how the family is impacted by youth migration, policies to promote employment, and safe migration among young people were also discussed.
Altogether 197 participants, including stakeholders, academics and officials from government and non-government organizations are participating in the two-day conference.