Gender is about the differences between men and women and how they are perceived. For migrants, gender is a very important factor shaping their experience. Migrant women today account for almost 50% of all migrants and are increasingly migrating to find jobs as individuals, although many still migrate as dependants. As economic decision- makers in their family, the community and the workplace, they are emerging from the margins as key players in the migration equation. Traditionally with less access to resources and less decision-making power than men, women can be empowered by migration.

Education, work experience and economic independence abroad can release women from traditional roles and enable them to exercise their rights more effectively. But migration holds more dangers for women than men. They are more vulnerable to physical, sexual and verbal abuse when travelling. And they are more likely to fall prey to human traffickers for the sex industry. As women and foreigners, migrant women often face double discrimination in the labour market. Their status as “dependants” often limits their access to employment, social and health programmes, and their residence may depend on their relationship with an employed male partner.

IOM’s Global Approach

In 1995 IOM adopted a gender mainstreaming policy.

IOM is committed to ensuring that the particular needs of all migrant women are identified, taken into consideration and addressed by IOM projects and services.

Gender mainstreaming is now an integral part of IOM’s work. The Gender Coordination function is responsible for the development and implementation of policies and programmes on gender issues, and for promoting gender awareness and sensitivity throughout the Organization. It acts to mainstream the Organization’s gender policy throughout IOM activities and programmes, and supports the development of initiatives to address the specific gender-related needs of migrants. Further, a network of Gender Focal Points was set up throughout the IOM Missions and HQs.

Learn more about IOM’s Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment activities


International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Country Office for Austria
Nibelungengasse 13/4
1010 Vienna

Tel: +43 1 585 33 22