Online Discussion from 2 until 15 September 2013

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Wikigender online discussion
How do discriminatory social norms relate to the gender dynamics of international migration?
Wikigender, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Scalabrini Migration Center (SMC), Wikiprogress and Wikichild would like to hear your views on the linkages between the social norms that discriminate against women (such as harmful practices, restricted access to resources, limited decision-making power, or violence against women) and migration processes.In September, the OECD Development Centre will publish an issues paper looking at migration from a gender perspective, based on new findings from the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI). Wikigender, IOM, SMC, Wikiprogress and Wikichild would like to invite you to participate in an online discussion on the topic from 2 september at 9am until 15 September 2013 at 6pm (GMT+1). The main findings of the discussion will be featured in the issues paper and the outcomes of the discussion will be synthesised in a final report and available on Wikigender.



Looking at migration from a gender perspective, in addition to looking at the differences in migration behaviour between men and women (such as the likelihood and types of migration) also implies examining the inequalities underlying those differences. It also means examining how these differences are shaped by the social and cultural contexts both at the individual and community levels; and how the economic and political context of the country influences the decision (or not) to migrate. Social institutions are a neglected area of research within the field of migration. For example, decisions to emigrate may be shaped by women and girls wishing to escape sexual violence and abuse, the social pressure to get married or the impossibility to achieve professional fulfilment at home. Some groups of women such as widows or lesbians may face even more pressing risks if they stay put. The forthcoming issues paper will examine the impact of discriminatory social institutions on female migration patterns, drawing on 2012 data from the SIGI. In particular, it will analyse how laws, social norms and cultural practices relate to this complex process, using the OECD Development Centre’s 2012 Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI).

A large body of the migration literature has traditionally focused its attention on male migration patterns assuming that most women migrate for family reunification reasons. However, more recent studies have also started to look at women as independent migrants. This coincides with the rise in women’s educational attainment, a higher demand for women’s labour in health, care and service sectors and changes in attitudes towards female migration in many countries of origin. Today, women exceed men in migration flows to developed regions. However, some discriminatory laws, policies or practices in countries of destination continue to consider women migrants as de facto dependents, which can impede their access to socio-economic integration and/or independence. In this context, it is important to better understand how gender roles play out in both origin and destination countries, for the migrants as well as for their families.


Guiding Questions

This online discussion will be a unique opportunity to discuss, exchange views and best practices on this issue. Participants are invited to share findings from their research or their own experiences of migration with other members of the discussion. The discussion will focus on the questions below:

How do gender norms relate to migration?

  • How do discriminatory social norms and practices (for example, women’s lower status in the family, violence and discrimination against women or restricted access to resources) relate to female migration? Do they act as an incentive to migrate for women?
  • Which discriminatory social norms and practices hinder female migration the most and why? What can be done about it?
  • Do social norms play a role in female migration in terms of choice of destination?

Impacts of gendered migration patterns

  • What role do social networks play in enabling female migration?
  • How does female/male migration impact on family dynamics in both the country of origin and destination?
  • How does increased female migration impact on gender norms in origin and destination countries?
  • Do you have examples of more restrictive social norms imported by migrants to their communities of origin?

Policy and data

  • What are the good practices (policies, initiatives, campaigns or programmes) that ensure women migrants’ human rights in both the country of origin and the country of destination?
  • What are some of the key indicators that are or could be collected to better understand the social and economic outcomes for female migrants? How can this be measured?
See past Wikigender online discussions.


Key Resources


Wikigender articles (a selection)



We look forward to your participation! We strongly encourage you to disseminate news about the online discussion via your networks and on Twitter using #migration and the following link to this page: with an Internet connection is invited to participate in the discussion and we encourage you to express your views on this pressing issue.
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