Gender at IOM

Gender is central to causes and consequences of migration, and shapes every stage of the journey. IOM formulated its Gender Equality Policy (2015-2019) to ensure effective gender-sensitive organizational responses:

“IOM affirms that equality of opportunity and treatment in both
programming and staffing are guiding principles for the Organization.”



Gender equality is a necessary condition for achieving IOM’s objective of facilitating orderly, safe, humane, regular and responsible migration for all.

IOM supports the achievement of Goal Five of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Gender equality is a cross-cutting component embedded in the 17 SDGs and is a prerequisite for their achievement.


Terminology - Words Count!

While sex refers to the biological features of humans expressed in the anatomy of sex characteristics describing them as male, female and/or intersex; gender is relational and refers not simply to women or men, but to the relationship between them. Roles, norms and challenges based on the biological sex of an individual strongly impact identity and expressions of a person. Thus, masculine and feminine are the ascribed gender categories with all related role responsibilities and norms for the biological sexes: male and female. Although notions of gender are deeply rooted in every culture, they are also changeable over time and have wide variations both within and between culture1

The concept of intersectionality has a great significance, as it highlights that gender as a social category may overlap with others such as that of being a migrant or of a specific social class.

Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) refers to “any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships. It encompasses threats of violence and coercion. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual in nature, and can take the form of a denial of resources or access to services. It inflicts harm on women, girls, men and boys”.2


Gender in IOM Programming – Mainstreaming

Achieving IOM’s mandate of developing safe, humane, and orderly migration crucially depends on IOM’s efforts and commitment to balanced and gender-sensitive programming.

For IOM, gender mainstreaming refers to the process of assessing gender implications for and concerns of all migrants, irrespective of their sex, gender identity and sexual orientation, with the aim to make it an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of any planned action, programme or policy. 3




1IOM Gender Equality Policy 2015, p. 18

2 UNHCR (2015): “Sexual and Gender-based Violence”. Found at:

3IOM Gender Equality Policy 2015, p. 12