Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

In contrast to the ratification of the ICRMW by only 45 countries, 171 countries have ratified the other six core human rights treaties, among them the CEDAW.14 Given this imbalance and the feminization of migration in some countries in the subregion, efforts have been made to promote the CEDAW as an instrument to protect the rights of migrant women (UNIFEM 2003).

A study on treaty bodies’ reference to migrant worker-related issues shows that the CEDAW Committee’s main concern with regards to women migrants is trafficking and sexual exploitation. The Committee provides a detailed analysis of the causes of vulnerability of women to traffickers and of the various measures to combat trafficking, punish perpetrators and protect victims. The second most common conclusion regards emigration. The Committee also lists minimal labour rights women migrants should enjoy, with special attention given to typical female labour sectors with higher risks of abuse, such as domestic work, entertainment, agricultural work, work in free trade zones and the tourist sector. According to the CEDAW, to ensure the full enjoyment of migrant women rights under the Convention, host countries should put in place information and awareness-raising programmes about the availability of social services, information on rights of women, residence permits, legal remedies and language classes. The Committee stresses that migrant women, including those that are classified as irregular migrants, are victims of multiple discriminations with respect to health, education, employment, social and political participation and violence, including domestic violence, due to the intersection of gender with ethnic and religious factors. Migrant women are also victims of discriminatory laws with respect to access to residency or citizenship. The CEDAW advises that culturally and gender-sensitive measures are necessary and that the specific needs of women should be taken into account in the areas of health and protection against violence (ICMC and December 18 2007).


14 The International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was ratified by 167 (signed by 72); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Culture Rights (ICESCR) by 160 (signed by 69); International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) by 174 (signed by 85); CEDAW by 186 (signed by 98) , the Convention Against Torture by 147 (signed by 77) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by 193 (signed by 140).