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VideoMarch 6, 2024

An X-ray of migrant women in Central America

In 2020, more than 16 million people migrated in Central America, half of them women. In order to design effective public policies, it is essential to know the protagonists of this story.

What is the profile of a female migrant in Central America? Do they travel alone? Where do they migrate to? What do they find when they arrive in the destination countries? Estela Aragón, regional research and data officer for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), shares these facts in this interview.

What are migrant women like in Central America?

The data shows us that of the transit, the flow of transit that crosses our region, 41% are women. Of these women, the majority are between 26 and 35 years old. The average age is 31 years old.

Most of them have a high school education and come from Venezuela. And something very important is that more than 75% are traveling in family groups. That means that they are not traveling alone. Most of them travel with children as well. Most of them have a very clear goal, and the goal is usually to get to the United States.

Some have to stay in some countries, even temporarily, gathering economic resources to be able to continue the journey, but for the most part, even though there are alternative destinations. Some are staying in Mexico when they do not make it across, for example. Some decide to stay, at least for a while in Panama, in Costa Rica, even in Belize, but it is usually for short periods of time, while they gather resources or because a child gets sick and they cannot continue the trip.

Another very particular characteristic of the group of migrant women is that the transit is usually slower than the transit of men.

When they reach their destination countries, what future can these migrant women expect?

First of all, let's talk about the crossing, and for many of the women, the crossing to the destination country implies a particular risk situation that does not necessarily imply for men. Why? Because in most cases it requires them to hire the services of traffickers and we know that as part of the modus operandi of trafficking networks there is systematized sexual violence that focuses on the female migrant population.

Interviewer: Álvaro G. de Pablo, Communications Associate at The World Bank