Gender and Migration

Currently, women constitute almost half of the 244 million people who live and work outside their countries of birth (UNWomen 2015).  In recent years, there has been an increase in the autonomous migration of women for work, particularly in feminized labour sectors. The feminization of migration has increased international migration of women where female labour is more concentrated in occupations that are traditionally associated with specific gender roles. Many women participate in low-skilled jobs such as manufacturing, agriculture and the global care chain. Throughout their journey in source, transit and destination countries, women face numerous challenges. Employment restrictions, deskilling prevalent in gendered labour markets, stigma around migrant women in both source and destination countries, limited financial inclusion, and lack of social protection. This is often compounded by gender blind policies that overlook the costs incurred by women migrant workers and the positive contributions they make to source and destination countries.  Conversations about migration should recognize that all aspects of migration are gendered and all women migrants are workers. Because women experience migration differently to men, the policies, practices and programmes that interact with labour migration need to reflect these differences. Our research strives to advance the mainstreaming of gender into migration policy through the lens of human rights. It examines the experiences and rights of women migrant workers throughout the migration process, the disproportionate impacts faced by refugee women, the implication of the global care chain, and the feminization of labour sectors.

Recent publication of UNWomen Reports on Women Migrant Workers! Click Here.



(UN Photo)

Citizenship and Pluralism

Alongside globalization, improved mobility, and increased movements of populations, societies have become more diverse. Countries with immigration policies welcoming significant numbers of new immigrants and refugees each year have experienced increased diversity within their communities. This has prompted the need to explore the link between pluralism and economic prosperity as well as the link between transnational identity and nations’ ability to adapt to and benefit from globalization. Integration and citizenship policies are also influenced by the changes in globalization and migration. Some policies have embraced the arrival of potential citizens while others have become barriers to new comers’ integration. Research conducted by the center explores the impacts of globalization upon communities, Canadians’ contributions to and benefits from global connections, citizenship and integration policies, the economic and social impacts of pluralism, and the role of globally connected citizens.


Highlighted Projects

Pluralism Project



In countries such as Canada, migrant workers are employed on temporary contracts and have no pathway to permanent residency. Many are employed in relatively high risk industries in which health and safety problems are common, and may go unreported. They normally work 6-7 days a week, 8-12 hours a day, these hours can increase substantially during the high season. They often lack sufficient breaks, health and safety training, and personal protective equipment. Workers face numerous barriers in accessing healthcare and insurance, such as language and cultural barriers, social and physical isolation, and fear of loss of employment or forced return to their country of origin. The center’s research explores barriers to healthcare and service providers, and facilitates collaborative identification of strategies to increase workers’ access to healthcare services and workers compensation.


Highlighted Projects

Migrant Worker Health


Security and Detention

Research on migration often focuses on how easily people integrate into new host societies or on changes in socioeconomic status and living conditions between the country of origin and country of destination. In contrast, there has been little consideration of zones of transit and transition between country of origin and final destination; that is, the remote and often tumultuous sites migrants travel to and through on their journeys to new locations. For example, islands are particular sites where struggles over migration, asylum, and sovereignty transpire and where federal mandates of national security and refugee protection intersect. The center’s research questions why particular islands become sites of migration management, how migrants arrive on islands, and what legal issues ensue. To supplement the lack of research in the area, findings will advance knowledge on global migration and contribute to contemporary debates about immigration, border enforcement, and asylum policies.  Research will address the need for new ways of understanding what happens to global migrants on their journeys between states, including the role of interception at sea, detention on islands, and human rights issues.


Highlighted Projects

Island Detention