#CPD51: ARROW Statement on SRHR and Sustainable Cities, Human Mobility, and International Migration

April 12, 2018 Good (5)

ARROW delivered an oral statement at the 51st  Commission on Population and Development (CPD) on 12 April 2018, endorsed by 125 CSOs in the Asia Pacific region. Read the PDF version here. This is also part of a series of blogposts on our engagement at CPD 51; read the first part here, and the second part here. 


Statement by the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), a Non-Governmental Organisation in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council

Gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people vital to sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration

The Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) is a regional women’s organisation based in Malaysia and has been working since 1993 to advance women’s and young people’s rights, particularly their sexual and reproductive rights. We work closely with many national partners in countries, regional and global networks around the world, and are able to reach stakeholders in 120 countries, predominantly in the Global South regions.

ARROW and 114 organisations from the Asia Pacific endorse this statement. We welcome the theme of the 51st session, Sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration. The ICPD Programme of Action recognised urbanisation and international migration as integral to development. Issues of sustainable cities, rural to urban migration, human mobility and international migration are key phenomenon that our region is currently grappling with and this requires urgent policy and programme response by the Member States.

Home to 60% of the world’s people, the Asia Pacific region is currently facing a historic dual demographic transition with young people forming a significant population group, and a rapid and unprecedented ageing population.

Urbanisation continues as a key trend, with more than 2.1 billion urban residents[1], or 60 per cent of the world’s urban population currently residing in the Asia Pacific region. This urban growth is primarily attributed to migration from rural to urban areas. While this rapid urbanization has transformed the Asia-Pacific region, such urbanization has largely been not well planned and significant gaps exist in term of growing inequalities, lack of basic health and education services, environmental degradation and unsustainable use of resources. Approximately 560 million people in the region still live in slums with poor-quality housing, insecure residential status, and inadequate access to safe water and sanitation.

Over 62.1 million international migrants were residing in the Asia-Pacific region in 2017 and most of them are South-South migrants, many of them are moving within the same sub-region and specifically to neighbouring countries.[2]

The face of these regional mega-trends of rural to urban migration, international migration and mobility, is predominantly women and young. Female migrants constituted 50.5 per cent of migrants in the region in 2017. Most of these women are engaged in labour migration, taking up low-skilled work in developing countries, and many face human rights abuses because of their race, age, gender, ethnicity or cultural background. A person’s sex, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation shapes every stage of the migration experience.

Gender and health issues permeate all aspects of migration, be it internal or international migration. SRHR of women migrant workers are subject to discriminatory and restrictive regulations by both countries of origin and destination.[3] Women and young people particularly face significant violations of their human rights throughout the migration process, from recruitment to return, through abusive practices by recruitment agents, employers and others. Women migrant workers face particular risks in this regard, especially those working in domestic work.  They routinely lack access to labour and social protection, healthcare and education, and social safety nets. They are vulnerable to discrimination, violence and exploitation, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).[4]

Women and young people in the region also experience restrictions in their freedom of movement, especially when employers confiscate their passports and identity documents. Destination countries within the region in some instances require pregnancy and HIV testing, either on a yearly basis or upon renewal of contracts. Those who get pregnant or acquire a sexually transmitted infection, such as HIV, could be imprisoned, detained or deported in certain destination countries. Restrictions also exist when it comes to women migrant workers accessing abortion or contraceptives.

Additionally, women and young migrants face multiple barriers in accessing SRH services, including: language barriers and the lack of translation services in health facilities; lack of familiarity with the health system; high cost of services, especially if these are not covered by insurance, particularly as health insurance packages, even if they are provided, offer basic coverage and they do not cover SRH services; bias or discrimination against non-nationals by health care providers. There exist no strict sanctions against employers who subject migrant workers to sexual and gender-based violence.

Given the above context, gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people will remain vital elements to sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration, and we call upon Member States to

  • Ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, and regional and sub-regional policy frameworks on Migration and health;
  • Commit to the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the key actions for its further implementation, and the outcomes of its review conferences and previous resolutions of the Commission on Population and Development on migration;
  • Forge bilateral cooperation through memoranda of understanding, facilitate cooperation between countries of origin and destination, to ensuring the fair treatment of migrant workers in line with existing national labour regulations and human rights standards, including in informal sectors, such as domestic work;
  • Commit to sexual and reproductive health and rights for all, including mobile and urban populations, as well as migrants, in particular adolescents and youth, to have full control over, and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence;
  • Commit to provide universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services for all migrant women, including family planning, modern contraceptives information and education including comprehensive sexuality education, HIV and other STI prevention voluntary testing and treatment and access to emergency contraception and safe abortion services;
  • Fulfil the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women migrant workers, in origin, transit and destination countries including the provision of comprehensive SRH services and education at all phases of the migration cycle and facilitate the establishment of linkages and referral networks with migrant friendly SRH service providers.
  • Review punitive policies and repeal, such as the conduct of compulsory testing and deportation of women migrant workers on account of pregnancy or HIV status.
  • Enhance North-South, South- South and triangular cooperation in order to improve the human rights of migrants
  • Commit to increase and improve data generation on SRHR issues of women, and young migrant workers, as evidence and basis in the development of relevant and appropriate SRHR policies and programmes in the destination countries.
  • Ensure sustainable pre-departure, post-arrival and reintegration programmes in the region that address SRHR of women migrant workers;
  • Implement measures to prevent violence, including sexual and gender based violence, and prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls including sexual and gender-based violence and harmful practices such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
  • Combating trafficking and smuggling of migrant workers through information campaigns, better law enforcement, regional and sub regional cooperation;
  • Commit to ensure migrant women enjoy the protection of national labour standards at their place of work, including the right to equal pay for equal work, safe working conditions and access to workers’ organizations and social protection.


This statement is endorsed by

  1. Aahung – Pakistan
  2. ACT!2030 Philippines
  3. Active Help Organization (AHO) – Pakistan
  4. Afghanistan National Education Coalition (ANEC)
  5. Ageing Nepal
  6. Aliansi Remaja Independen – Indonesia
  7. Aliansi Satu Visi – Indonesia
  8. Ardhanary Institute – Indonesia
  9. ARTS Foundation Pakistan
  10. Arus Pelangi – Indonesia
  11. ASEAN Disability Forum
  12. ASEAN Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression Caucus (ASC)
  13. Asia Catalyst – Thailand
  14. Asia Pacific Women’s Watch
  15. Association of Youth Organization Nepal
  16. Awaj Foundation – Bangladesh
  17. Aware Girls – Pakistan
  18. Bandhu – Bangladesh
  19. Bangladesh Apparels Workers Foundation (BAWF) – Bangladesh
  20. Bangladesh centre for Human Rights and development (BCHRD)
  21. Bangladesh Mohila Parishad
  22. Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication (BNNRC)
  23. Bargad – Pakistan
  24. Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC) – Nepal
  25. Blue Diamond Society – Nepal
  26. Blue Veins Organization – Pakistan
  27. Boys of Bangladesh
  28. BRAC- Education Program – Bangladesh
  29. BRAC JPG – Bangladesh
  30. BRAC University – Bangladesh
  31. Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA)
  32. CARAM Asia
  33. Center for Creative Initiatives in Health and Population (CCIHP) – Vietnam
  34. Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies (Puska Genseks UI) – Indonesia
  35. Center for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender, Family, Women & Adolescents – Vietnam
  36. Center for Sustainable Community Development (SCODE) – Vietnam
  37. Central Asia and Afghanistan Women and Water Association
  38. Central Asian CSOs’ Climate Coalition
  39. Centre for Supporting Community and Development Initiatives – Vietnam
  40. Citizen News Service (CNS)
  41. Community Development Services (CDS) Sri Lanka
  42. Deepti Bhuban – Bangladesh
  43. Yasmeen Sabeeh Qazi – Pakistan
  44. Durbin Foundation – Bangladesh
  45. EcoForum of Kazakhstan
  46. Empower India – India
  47. Faculty of Postgraduate Studies, University of Health Sciences – Laos
  48. Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia (FRHAM) – Malaysia
  49. Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities Nepal
  50. Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWM) – Fiji
  51. Films 4 Peace Foundation – Bangladesh
  52. Forum for Dignity Initiatives-FDI – Pakistan
  53. Forum of women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan
  54. Forum Populasi Kunci Usia Muda (Fokus Muda) – Indonesia
  55. FPAB – Bangladesh
  56. Gender and Develoipment for Cambodia (GADC)
  57. Human Rights Focus Pakistan (HRFP)
  58. Huvadhoo Aid – Maldives
  59. Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagah (ITA) – Pakistan
  60. Independent Youth Forum Papua – Indonesia
  61. Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association – Indonesia
  62. Indus Resource Center (IRC) – Pakistan
  63. Institute for Social Development Studies (ISDS), Vietnam
  64. International community of women living with HIV Asia Pacific (ICWAP)
  65. IWRAW Asia Pacific
  66. JAGO NARI – Bangladesh
  67. Khpal Kore Organization – Pakistan
  68. Khpal Kore Organization from Pakistan
  69. Krityanand UNESCO Club Jamshedpur – India
  70. Likhaan Center for Women’s Health, Inc – Philippines
  71. LOOM Nepal
  72. MAP Foundation – Thailand
  73. MONFEMNET National Network – Mongolia
  74. Naripokhho – Bangladesh
  75. National Center Against Violence – Mongolia
  76. National Federation of Women Living with HIV and AIDS – Nepal
  77. NGO Federations of Nepalese Indigenous Nationalities (NGO-FONIN)
  78. Nirmanee Development Foundation Sri Lanka
  79. Oyu Tolgoi Watch and Rivers without Boundaries – Mongolia
  80. Participatory Research Action Network- PRAN, Bangladesh
  81. Perkumpulan Pamflet Generasi – Indonesia
  82. QKnit – India
  83. Rahnuma-Family Planning Association of Pakistan
  84. Ranao Women & Children Resource Center – Philippines
  85. Restless Development – Nepal
  86. RHAC – Cambodia
  87. RHSTEP – Bangladesh
  88. Russ Foundation, India
  89. Rutgers Pakistan
  90. Rutgers WPF Indonesia
  91. RUWSEC – India
  92. Sahayog – India
  93. Sanggar SWARA – Indonesia
  94. Sangsan Anakot Yawachon, Thailand
  95. SERAC-Bangladesh
  96. SERAC-Bangladesh
  97. Society for the Protection of the Right of the Child (Pakistan)
  98. The Centre for Human Rights and Development (CHRD) – Mongolia
  99. Timor-Leste Civil Society Education Partnership Timor-Leste (CEPTIL)
  100. UBR Bangladesh Alliance – Bangladesh
  101. Udyama – India
  102. Visible Impact – Nepal
  103. Vote For Health Campaign, Asha Parivar – India
  104. Yayasan Kesehatan Perempuan (YKP) – Indonesia
  105. Youth Action Nepal
  106. Youth Advocacy Network (YAN) – Pakistan
  107. Youth Advocacy Network Sri Lanka
  108. Youth Development Center – Nepal
  109. Youth Interfaith Forum on Sexuality (YiFoS) – Indonesia
  110. Y-PEER Asia Pacific Center, Thailand
  111. Y-PEER International Network
  112. YUWA – Nepal
  113. YUWA – Nepal
  114. Yuwalaya – Nepal
  115. Light House, Bangladesh
  116. AwazCDS-Pakistan
  117. Sustainable Development Foundation – Thailand
  118. Asia Development Alliance (ADA)
  119. Ikatan Perempuan Positif Indonesia
  120. National network of WLHIV – Indonesia
  121. National Network for Education Reform (NNER) of Myanmar
  122. National Alliance of Women – India
  123. Narigrantha Prabartana – Bangladesh
  124. Action for Health Initiatives (ACHIEVE), Inc. – Philippines
  125. Women and Media Collective – Sri Lanka

[1] Retrieved from http://www.unescap.org/our-work/environment-development/urban-development

[2] http://www.unescap.org/sites/default/files/publications/Safe%20Regular%20Migration%20report%20v8-2-E.pdf

[3] ARROWs For Change vol. 19 no. 1 2013, issn 1394-4444


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