Arab States’ experts provide recommendations to address human trafficking of women and girls in the region

Date: Thursday, December 19, 2019

Gender experts from governments, civil society and international organizations from the Arab States in Cairo to discuss CEDAW recommendations. Photo: UN Women/Nourhan A. El-Nagdy

Gender experts from governments, civil society and international organizations from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates met in Cairo to discuss trends, challenges and lessons learned in the implementation of Article 6 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which calls on State parties to suppress all forms of trafficking in women and girls.

At the meeting, experts from the region defined and communicated to the representatives of the CEDAW Committee the priorities for the region to prevent and combat trafficking in women and girls, contextualizing the discussion within the current realities of unprecedented global migration flows. The discussion will inform CEDAW’s General Recommendation on Trafficking in Women and Girls in the Context of Global Migration, which provide guidance to States parties on the implementation of the Convention, clarifying issues which require further elaboration.

The meeting focused on four key aspects: the root causes of trafficking of women and girls as related to international migration trends in the region; policies and laws to prevent and combat trafficking of women and girls; the challenges and lessons learned in providing services to women and girls, including those who have been victims and survivors of trafficking; the challenges and opportunities in implementing global governance frameworks as a measure to counter human trafficking.

The discussion resulted in concrete recommendations proposed to the CEDAW Committee including:

  • The importance of linking the efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in women and girls with other aspects of sustainable development;
  • Expanding constituencies and promoting multisector collaboration (between those working in the fields of trafficking, migration, labour rights, women’s rights, broader development practitioners);
  • Enforcing strengthened labour standards;
  • Monitoring work sites;
  • The need to ensure availability and accessibility to a range of comprehensive and long-term services across the migration cycle

Overall, it was emphasized that it is critical to change the rhetoric around migrants in the region, giving a voice to their stories and advocating for the exercise of their human rights, including by ensuring that migrant women are not criminalized and are protected from being trafficked into situations of exploitation.

In her remarks to the meeting, Deputy Regional Director for UN Women, Janneke van der Graaff-Kukler, noted that “we are at a pivotal moment for promoting gender equality globally, as 2020 will mark the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Generation Equality Forums and high-profile campaigns that will provide the opportunity to place the focus on women’s rights to live a life free from all forms of violence.” Ms. Van der Graaff-Kukler highlighted that the Generation Equality campaign demands equal pay, equal sharing of unpaid care and domestic work, an end to sexual harassment and violence against women and girls, health care services that respond to their needs, and their equal participation in political life and in decision-making in all areas of life.

The meeting was organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States, in partnership with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), and supported by the Governments of Austria and Japan, and IOM's Migration Resource Allocation Committee (MIRAC).