The UCL Centre for Gender, Health and Social Justice

What we do

Gender and Migration

Around the world, people are on the move. Nearly one-seventh of the world’s population currently lives in a location different from the one in which they were born. Whether seeking new opportunities, a better life for themselves and their families or are forced to move due to conflict or disaster, their experience of migration is shaped, in part, by their gender identity and sexual orientation. 

Gender influences reasons for migrating, who migrates and to where, how people migrate and the networks they use, opportunities and resources available at destinations, and relations with the country of origin. Risks, vulnerabilities and needs are also shaped in large part by one’s gender, and often vary drastically for different groups.

SELMA project

The SELMA project: Identifying and implementing appropriate and effective public policy responses for improving the sexual health of migrants and refugees

164 million international labour migrants have crossed borders in hope of economic prosperity and better lives. In some of the Gulf countries, more than 95% of the labourers in construction and domestic work are migrant workers, often of South Asian origin. The health of these temporary labour migrants, many of which are young men and at the peak of their sexual activity, is not yet studied. They are often young and relatively healthy when leaving their homes, but their health and sexual health may be at risk. They may have difficulties in accessing care or may be exposed to increased health risks. The social and structural determinants – including laws and regulations, stigma, working conditions or health care access – may dispose labour migrants to poor health.

The Wellcome trust funded SELMA project examines public policy responses to improve migrants sexual health. Through policy analysis and public engagement activities researchers at UCL, Aga Khan University and Weill Cornell Medicine Qatar, this research project takes a closer look at responses to sexually transmitted infections among labour migrants going from Pakistan to Qatar. 

This work will involve in-depth policy document analysis, qualitative interviews and public engagements in Karachi. To promote discussion and dialogues on how to improve the sexual health of migrants, different stakeholders - including labour migrants, researchers, decision makers, policy makers and others - are involved in the research process.