According to UNHCR there were nearly 60 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide by the end of 2014. The member States of the Council of Europe have experienced exceptionally large numbers of refugees and migrants arriving from neighbouring countries and via the Mediterranean Sea, a majority of whom are from Syria and other conflict-affected countries and regions, since then. According to the UNHCR the number of refugees in Europe rose from 3,095,000 at the beginning of 2015 to 3,475,300 by mid-year, when another increase started.
Refugee and migrant women are key actors for integration, for themselves, and also for their whole families. The member States of the Council of Europe must do more than tackling sexual violence and giving women full access to health service, employment and education. Refugee women are the main actors for the integration of migrant families – if host States and host societies give them the opportunity to fulfill this role. It is the women who can pass cultural values of democracy, equality and tolerance to the next generation. Women are a bridge between their countries of origin and their host country.
The Parliamentary Assembly should study the best practices in member States concerning a gender-based role of integration and encourage them to provide conditions to empower women for a fast and thorough integration and not only rely on the capability and the ability of women to fulfill this role. Enabling both women and men to promote and advance integration by providing special integration courses and by increasing social and political participation could be a possible outcome of the experienced best practices.