3 March 2016

A study commissioned by the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) Committee of the European Parliament analyses the situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU, underlining the importance of considering the refugee experience from a gender perspective, and concluding that integration policies which are not gender-sensitive are destined to fail.

Women refugees and asylum seekers constitute a particularly vulnerable group, exposed to gender-specific risks – such as gender-based violence, trafficking, lack of access to health services – not only in their home or host country, but also during the journey. In January, Amnesty International highlighted the dangers faced by refugee women along their journey, including on European soil, with transit camps being particularly threatening environments which very often lack specific facilities for women.  

Once in their host countries moreover, they often face isolation, as they may be unable to attend language courses and other integration services because of the difficulties to reconcile this with family care. Therefore, their independence is limited, and they may always need to rely on family members for translation and access to services.

The EP study urges EU member states to implement integration policies which are gender-sensitive and are aimed at the empowerment and independence of women refugees, tailoring the services offered to their specific needs. In particular, such policies need to include a proper dissemination of information regarding access to services among refugee women, the training of female cultural mediators to assist refugee women and the provision of proper training for women themselves to enhance their skills and education.

The study, adopted by the FEMM Committee on 28 January, will be debated and voted by the European Parliament on 8 March.

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This article appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 4 March 2016. You can subscribe to the Weekly Bulletin here.