Women who are poor are crossing borders as never before in history.
48 percent of all migrants are women, according to the latest UN International Migration Report.
During the European Development Days in Brussels, experts were discussing possible solutions.
Esther Nakajjigo, a social worker from Uganda, describes the situation in her country.
"In my country, 70 per cent of the people are below the age of 30, unemployed, with no money, hopeless. And their hope is, maybe, to look at a gun as the only way they can try to share the national cake. Now, those who have the energy hold a gun, and the ladies with the children go on the move."
Most women migrants from developing countries end up in domestic work.
Many of them are faced with low wages, bad labour conditions, sexual harassment.
Women with higher degrees of formal education also face barriers to get jobs.
The head of the African Diaspora Network in Europe, Marie Chantal Uwitonze, calls it prejudice and racism.
"Here in Brussels, foreigners who are not Africans are called expats, but we Africans are called migrants. I see myself more in the category of an intellectual who, degree in hand, has chosen to work with the European Union, because it is interesting in terms of my field of study. I am not a migrant dependent on welfare."
The cross-border movement of women in search of security and work exposes them to gender-based violence, such as sexual abuse.
They are often victims of traficking for forced labour or prostitution.
Ambassador Laura Thompson, deputy-diretor of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that border control alone is not enough to deal with these new disturbing trends.
"All migrants that are moving irregularly have vulnerabilities but, obviously; gender related abuse and exploitation happens more often to women and there is certainly clear needs of protection"
Demographic pressures and the impact of climate change on vulnerable societies are likely to drive migration further in the years ahead, according to the United Nations.
In September, the UN will hold an intergovernmental conference with a view to adopting a global compact for migration and asylum.
Laura Thompson: "In the last years, women have started to migrate has of heads of families and that is the shift. We need to be more capable of regulating the informal sector of the economy that realates to domestic wok and care work."
In the coming months, the European Union is supposed to find a common policy among the 28 member states that allows it to speak in a unified voice at this conference.