New WHO report highlights plight of migrant women care workers

Many migrant women care workers experience poor reproductive and sexual health, says a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Women on the move: Migration, care work and health” documents show, despite making a large contribution to global public health, such workers are exposed to many health risks themselves, while enjoying few labour market and health protections.

According to the report, issued by the Gender, Equity, and Human Rights division of WHO, a global paradox is emerging in which care workers - who are largely migrant women, often working in informal home settings - make a considerable contribution to public health in many countries but are themselves exposed to health risks, face barriers to accessing care, and enjoy few labour and social protections.

The report looks at the lives of these migrant women care workers as well as the situation for
their households left behind. In addition, migrant women care workers in the Eastern Mediterranean who test positive for HIV/AIDS or pregnancy often face immediate deportation.

According to the report, even in countries where migrants are legally entitled to access health services regardless of their status, accessing services in practice may still be difficult; the report notes incidences of pregnant migrants in Mexico report being refused care at hospitals because they lack identification papers and how in Uruguay some have faced difficulties in accessing health care without an identify card.

The report, which urges all countries and regions to consider improving the health and well-being of migrant care workers and their families, was also supported by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

You can read the full report HERE:

Female MEPs bringing babies to work

Female members of the European Parliament are making their mark by bringing their children with them to work. MEPs are not currently entitled to parental leave, and while they are able to take six months maternity or paternity leave, they cannot be replaced by another politician and are obliged to vote in person.

The latest is the Swedish MEP Jytte Guteland who took her baby to a vote at the European Parliament last month and has called for workplaces to be more “child friendly”.

A picture of the Social Democrat politician with her young son was shared hundreds of times on Twitter. According to Guteland, she wanted to normalise bringing children to work so that parents could do so if and when it is necessary. “It's common to have kids at work, but quite uncommon for them to come along and vote. But there is no parental leave for us MEPs,” she explained.

Female members of the European Parliament are making their mark by bringing their children with them to work.

"I want parents to be able to have parental leave regardless of their job or assignment. I think we should also be child-friendly so that a baby can come along when it’s possible.”

This isn’t the first time this has happened in the European Parliament. Former Italian MEP Licia Ronzulli attended the European Parliament in Strasbourg with her baby daughter Vittoria on several occasions over a number of years.

Ronzulli said at the time that she wanted to make a point about the difficulties women face in trying to juggle careers and child care. She commented early on that her decision to bring baby Vittoria into vote was not a “political gesture but a maternal” one, as she was still breastfeeding. She also said she wanted “to remind people that there are women who do not have this opportunity [to bring their children to work], that we should do something to talk about this”.

Last year, Anneliese Dodds, Labour MEP for the South East of England, took her four-month-old daughter Isabella to Strasbourg where she spoke passionately on tax avoidance laws.

WHO decides for maternal health? She Decides

The reinstatement of the “Global Gag Rule” in U.S. and the resulting gap in funding for global NGOs proving maternal healthcare was a huge blow to all of those working to achieve full reproductive and maternal rights for women.

The shortfall of funding is not insignificant, and is estimated to be around $600m. Earlier this month, the “She Decides” conference in Brussels saw a gathering of over 50 countries, organisations, and foundations, who collectively vowed to give financial and political support.

Over €181 million ($190m) has now been pledged to fund NGOs whose work will suffer as a result of the rulling and the She Decides movement is gaining momentum.

Dr Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization and Vice-Chair of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, attended the conference, and has written a powerful post on the WHO website, saying this movement has come at a “critical juncture” for women’s health.

According to Dr Bustreo, the gathering comes at a time when the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls are facing a “stark challenge”; “we risk losing important hard-won recent advances,” she

Dr Bustreo emphasised how reduced funding not only has an impact on the individual woman, but also their families and communities. She also made the economic argument for investment in contraception, explaining that every US$1 invested in modern contraception and good quality care for pregnant women and newborns returns an estimated US$120.

The evidence clearly illustrates that sound family planning for women is more than essential; “the likelihood of a child reaching the age of five increases by more than one third when its mother is a/ble to space her pregnancies by three or more years.”

Dr Bustreo concludes by saying that it is important to move forwards, not backwards, when it comes to women’s health.

“Quite simply, we must all do what we can to ensure that women across the globe are able to make decisions about their bodies and their environment, which will have a positive impact on their health and their futures.”


Read Dr Bustreo’s statement here: