B Explanatory memorandum
by Ms Petra Stienen, rapporteur
For the Council of Europe,
gender mainstreaming is “the (re)organisation, improvement, development and
evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective
is incorporated in all policies, at all levels and at all stages,
by the actors involved in policy making.”Note
Although efforts are being made to
include the gender dimension in migration policies, much remains
to be done and it is important for each Council of Europe member
State to look into how to develop, improve and implement gender
mainstreaming in their migration policies. Therefore, this report
addresses the impact gender has on the ways in which migration policies
are developed and how gender is taken into account in migration
policies in order to best protect the rights of migrants, refugees
and displaced persons.
2. What first prompted this thinking was the realisation that,
far from being a gender-neutral process, migration is in fact highly
gendered. In the 1960s and 1970s, women as migrants were virtually
invisible. The assumption was that they were wives accompanying
their husbands in the migration process and that their place was
in the home. Clichés being hard to dislodge, this assumption remains
deeply entrenched even today, when women make up more than half
of the world's migrant population and are actors in their own migration processes.
The way men are represented in migration is gendered as well: they
are often seen as the breadwinners; they have to leave their countries
and find jobs to sustain their families, to create a better future for
their children. Therefore, it is important to recall that a gender
perspective does not mean a woman’s perspective.
3. The first problem facing us is the lack of a gender perspective
of migration and integration policies, even though it is a well-known
fact that inequalities between women and men are very pronounced
in migration. Understanding the impact of gender in the migratory
process would pave the way not only for an optimal response to the
needs of migrants arriving in host countries, but also for a more
social approach to migratory phenomena and thus create an opportunity
to move away from the economic-centric vision that prevails at present.
The Parliamentary Assembly has already adopted a number of
resolutions aimed at promoting the protection of migrant women's
rights or improving the representation of women in politics but
never specifically in the area of migration policies. In Resolution 2244 (2018)
, the Assembly tackled the issue of migration from a
gender equality perspective in order to empower women as key actors
It is also important to recall that in Recommendation R(79)10
of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member
States on migrant women,Note
it was recommended that governments
“promote public awareness and understanding among the population
of the specific problems of women migrants”.
6. The aim of this report is to encourage member States to use
the existing data on the impact of gender in migration processes
to deal with the matter more effectively in the future. It is also
essential to promote sex-disaggregated data where it is lacking.
There is an urgent need for a general theoretical framework to make
it easier to understand the unique experience of men and women at
all stages of the migration process which will also help tackle
intersectionality issues. In practice, despite the legal frameworks
in place to promote women, the latter are still under-represented
in decision-making positions and poorly understood in legislation that
directly concerns migrants.
This report is also addressing the place of women in migration
policy making. The majority of key positions in this area in Council
of Europe member States are held by men, whereas many of those directly involved
in assisting and supporting asylum seekers on the ground are women.
Women's leadership in this area is certainly an issue therefore,
and greater female involvement in the framing of these policies
would make for wider representation of women overall. One analogy
can be given in this context. According to the World Economic Forum,
the Covid-19 crisis has revealed that countries with women leaders
have been “systematically and significantly better” at managing
While not everyone may agree that
the former is the case, women tend to have a more inclusive leadership
style that gives direction and is more openly compassionate for
others. This, then begs the question of how much more effective
migration policies might have been or might be with a higher number
of women in key roles.
2 The legal framework applicable to gender
mainstreaming of migration policies
8. The United Nations Convention
Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951) offers international protection to
any refugee who has had to flee his or her country because of persecution.
It does not provide any gender diversification of refugees. However,
in the Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women, developed
in 1991 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),
it is stated, that “women fearing persecution or severe discrimination
on the basis of their gender should be considered a member of a
social group for the purposes of determining refugee status”.
9. The adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination
of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979), and its Optional
Protocol (1999) constitutes an important step in international commitments
to ensure equality between women and men. In addition, specific
recommendations have since been adopted, including by the Committee
on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women
(CEDAW): General recommendation No. 30 on women in conflict prevention,
conflict and post-conflict situations (2013), General recommendation
No. 32 on the gender-related dimensions of refugee status, asylum,
nationality and statelessness of women, General recommendation No.
35 on gender-based violence against women, updating General Recommendation
No. 19 (2017), and General recommendation No. 38 on trafficking
in women and girls in the context of global migration (2020).
10. In 2015, the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,
under which Goal 5 is dedicated to achieving gender equality and
empowering all women and girls. The gender dimension is also mainstreamed
through other goals of the Agenda; some of which are directly linked
11. Furthermore, one should not forget the Global Compact for
Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, adopted in December 2018, which
puts a special emphasis on gender mainstreaming in all dimensions
13. At the European level, the protection of the rights of migrant,
refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls is a strategic objective
in the work of the Council of Europe. The main principles of equality
have been already enshrined in the Convention for the Protection
of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ETS No. 5, 1950) and its
Protocols, in the relevant case law of the European Court of Human
Rights and the European Social Charter (ETS No. 35, 1961, revised
in 1996, ETS No. 163).
14. Recommendation R(79)10 concerning women migrants marked the
beginning of a long line of European instruments and conventions,
such as the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking
in Human Beings (CETS No. 197, 2005), the Council of Europe Convention
on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual
Abuse (CETS No.201, 2007), the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and
Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (CETS No. 210,
2011, Istanbul Convention).
The new Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023
is particularly supportive to the protection of the rights of migrant,
refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls.Note
16. Unfortunately, at the level of the European Union, gender
perspective is still missing from the main policy documents on asylum,
migration and integration. It is also the case with the draft of
the New EU Migration and Asylum Pact, which is not gender-sensitive
and has practically no mention of women migrants’ particular needs.
Being an important EU policy document, the new Pact should comply
with the obligation to promote equality between the sexes (Articles
2 and 3.3 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
(TFEU)) and the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex
and sexual orientation set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights
of the European Union (Article 21 EUCFR). The Pact does not provide
any gender-based analysis of the impact of the proposed measures
such as mandatory screening procedures, the increased use of detention,
or enforced relocation. It also does not take into account the needs
of unaccompanied girls, queer, transwomen, or migrants with disabilities.
17. Another important migration related EU policy document, the
Action Plan for Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027, released by
the European Commission in November 2020 also fails to recognise
the multiple and intersectional discrimination on the basis of sex
and gender faced by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers during
their integration process.
Many member States have contributed to gender mainstreaming
in their national legislation, but not yet achieved this in migration
policies. The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has
a very good web site providing information on gender mainstreaming
in national laws.Note
To give some country examples, in Denmark,
the legal basis is the Law on Gender Equality which was influenced
by the Treaty of Amsterdam (1997) declaring the advancement of equality
between women and men to be a fundamental task of the European Union
and obliging member States to eliminate inequality and promote equality
between women and men in all areas of activity. In Norway, this
notion has been included in its overall strategy for gender equality. The
Spanish Organic Law 3/2007 prescribes the creation of gender units
within all ministries to reinforce gender mainstreaming. Gender
mainstreaming has also been applied at federal level in Germany
and in Austria where Article 7 of the Austrian Federal Constitutional
Law as amended provides the constitutional basis for the implementation
of gender mainstreaming. It introduces the responsibility for the
authorities at all levels (federation, Länder and municipalities)
to take measures to reach de facto
of women and men. Furthermore, as part of gender mainstreaming,
the tool of gender budgeting has been included in the Constitution
19. To facilitate gender mainstreaming in migration policies,
member States should develop specific measures to enable the application
of equality between women and men in their national policies. Such measures
should be incorporated in national legislation and legal standards
should be developed in order to promote intersectionality in terms
of an understanding of how aspects of a person's identity combine
to create different modes of discrimination. Civil society organisations
should be actively involved in the elaboration of these measures.
differences in vulnerability
Migration is a gendered phenomenon
since gender norms and expectations, power relations and unequal
rights shape the migration choices and experiences of women and
girls as they do for men and boys.Note
persecution can also be a reason for flight and give grounds for
asylum in another State. Avoiding taking into account gender-related
considerations can expose people on the move to certain vulnerabilities,
exacerbate inequalities and render policies as well as service provisions
ill-adapted to the needs of people. Such vulnerabilities can only
be identified through gender statistics which is a tool that should
Gender statistics were initially developed ahead of the Fourth
Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. To be considered gender
statistics, three requirements needed to be fulfilledNote
on individuals should be collected and presented disaggregated by
- All figures should be analysed and presented with gender
as the primary classification;
- Efforts should be made to identify gender issues and ensure
that collected data address these issues.
According to the Migration Data Portal, gender-responsive
data on migration have the potential to promote greater equality
and it stresses that male migrants are also exposed to vulnerabilities
in the migration processes.Note
By the middle of 2021, the share of female migrants in Europe
. This larger proportion of women migrants in Europe
can be explained by the longer life expectancy of female migrants
in comparison with males and by the older population of migrants
There is an urgent need to take into account the available
statistics on the impact of gender on migration processes in order
to elaborate more relevant migration policies. Thanks to an exchange
of views held with Mr Jean-Christophe Dumont, Head of International
Migration Division at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD), I was made aware of studies tackling the
issue of gender balance in migration policies and the different
ways in which these policies impact migrant women and men. However, there
is still a lack of policy focus when it comes to the integration
of migrant women. The European Court of Auditors has pointed out
that many EU member States lack policies specifically concerning
female migrants. A 2018 report by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency
also confirmed that across the European Union, there is little evidence
of action plans and strategies having a particular focus on migrant
women or gender issues.Note
Moreover, most frequently key policy
documents fail to distinguish between men and women. Gender is a crucial
variable when looking into the policy area of migration. The lack
of a gender perspective in migration, asylum and integration policies
can have detrimental effects on women and men on the move. According
to the EIGE, the main gender inequality issues relating to migration
status in the European Union are labour market participation, deskilling
and the informal economy, family reunification, international protection
and gender-based violence.Note
25. Many factors shape the decision and possibility to migrate,
but they don’t impact men and women in the same way. First of all,
structural characteristics of the country of origin, such as the
state of the economy and the labour market are decisive when people
consider migrating. However, more and more migrants stress that the
equal treatment of women and men in society is also an incentive
to migrate. Neglecting gender differences, further threatens gender
26. In its 2019 Report on “Migrants and their vulnerabilities”,
the International Organization for Migration (IOM) stressed that
“the issue of gender is relevant to vulnerability, with women experiencing
higher rates of modern slavery in domestic work, the sex industry
and forced marriage, while men are more likely to be exploited in
State sponsored forced labour and forced labour in the construction
and manufacturing sectors”. The report also recalled that the most
vulnerable migrants are children and adolescents, especially when
being separated from their family; and that undocumented migrants
are at a higher risk of modern slavery than those who are documented.
All of this shows the multiple intersections that can be derived
from migration processes and points out that men as much as women
are subject to different vulnerabilities.
Migrant women are often survivors of violence that occur in
one or more of the phases of their migratory experience, including
male violence against women, also referred to by the Istanbul Convention
and CEDAW as gender-based violence against women and girls. Apart
from gender-based violence and fierce sexism, they are more vulnerable
to economic and social exploitation. This is because they often
work in subordinate positions such as caregivers and domestic workers,
whose situations are often irregular and insecure due to lower pay
and fewer labour regulations compared with other sectors. According
to the OECD, one fifth of migrant women work in health and social
care in Europe while the share of tertiary educated migrant women is
higher than for men. The EIGE provided evidence that migrant women
are more likely to be unemployed or economically inactive than any
other group in the EU labour market, even if labour segregation
and pay gaps are common among all skill groups.Note
It is important to assess this data
in order to be able to address the different needs of people on
the move accordingly.
28. During the preparation of the report, I circulated a questionnaire
to some experts who provided an overview of different viewpoints
on the matter. According to Vera Lomazzi and Isabella Crespi, two
researchers who wrote the book Gender
Mainstreaming and Gender Equality in Europe. Policies, Culture and
Public Opinion, the main gender inequalities lie in reconfiguration
of family roles and forms, gender related power dynamics and strategies
put in place to maximise the benefits of mobility.
29. It should be stressed that gender differences affect not only
migrants but also families left behind. For instance, a left behind
woman may have to live with her in-laws or other members of the
family, thus setting up a new family form, where the roles and power
dynamics are readjusted. In other words, women whose partners migrate,
become responsible for households and thus are more vulnerable,
as they cannot count on the support of their partners.
30. The working conditions of men and women on arrival in the
destination country is another issue of vulnerability and discrimination
as the horizontal segregation of the labour market affects women
migrant workers more than men. As it is more difficult for women
to enter in training courses for skills acquisition, they are more
likely to do undeclared jobs, without any insurance and social rights.
Deskilling is also a major issue faced by women migrants and refugees;
they often tend to occupy lower-level positions regardless of their education
or experience. Racism is also a barrier to access high income jobs.
Transgender and gender non-binary persons often experience gender
discrimination during the whole migratory process.
31. Forced migration aggravates particularly the situation of
women and other minority groups. Being an asylum seeker puts them
in a position of vulnerability, as many are migrating through irregular
routes and can be exposed to exploitation and abuse by smugglers
and traffickers and can face a risk of death, while crossing borders
illegally. Very often asylum seekers arrive without legal documentation
and knowledge of the local language. It requires a very high faculty
to adapt, and men and women migrants are not confronted with the same
difficulties. Before settling, they all go through a temporary situation
where they need to find adequate shelter and a safe place to stay.
This period is critical since without local support it can be easy
to become homeless and fall into the clutches of all sort of trafficking
networks. When arriving in a host country, migrant women and girls
are more likely to be subjected to violence, with a risk of abuse,
so it is important to set up reception facilities dedicated to them,
with special protection given to unaccompanied migrant girls. That
should also be the case for all migrants: gender mix should be permitted
in the facilities, when desired, but there should be an alternative
for those who wish to be in a non-mixed environment, including LGBTIQ+
people. Therefore, it is important that, when formulating migration
policies, States take into consideration multiple inequalities.
Migration laws and regulations of the host countries have
a major impact on the migration of individuals. For example, some
receiving countries implicitly assume, through their migration policies,
a “dependent” status for women and “independent” status for men.
Issues also arise regarding the assimilation of migrants and refugees
in receiving countries. Refugee women, in particular, face a number
of integration challenges associated with poorer health, lower education
and labour market outcomes compared to refugee men, who are already
disadvantaged in comparison with other migrant groups. Recent OECD
evidence shows that it takes longer for refugee women to gain a
foothold in the labour market compared with refugee men.Note
As recalled in the Council of Europe Gender Equality Strategy
2018-2023, “due consideration should be given to the needs and circumstances
of migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls” and “gender responsive
measures should be adopted”. The OECD has shown that building basic
skills in terms of educational attainment and host-country language
training bears a high return in terms of improving labour market
outcomes and also provides intergenerational pay-off for the children
34. A lot more needs to be done to prevent migrants’ vulnerabilities
endangering their everyday life because these vulnerabilities expose
them to discrimination, and discrimination enables exploitation.
discrimination in migration processes
Women and men migrants experience
based on multiple factors including age, ethnicity, religion, migration
status and of course gender identity and sexual orientation. Introducing
an intersectionality lens may help to better understand how migrants,
including asylum seekers, are exposed to multiple forms of injustice.
The absence of intersectional analysis contributes to a failure
to address many of the root causes that dehumanise migrants and
lead to growing discrimination.
36. Experiences of discrimination and violence are important reasons
for flight and migration, particularly for groups fleeing due to
serious human rights violations/persecution, such as women victims
of violence, notably sexual violence, single mothers and LGBTIQ+
persons. The simple fact of being categorised as a migrant in a receiving
country can also expose them to gruesome treatment by others, motivated
solely by sexism, discrimination, racism and xenophobia.
37. Migrants are often discriminated against in housing, education,
health, work or social security. They are faced with multiple discrimination
during their migration process in the countries of origin, transit
and host countries. Women might be forced to migrate due to persecution
based on their gender, including in cases of sexual violence. Considering
the absence of the words ‘women’ or ‘gender’ in the 1951 Convention
relating to the Status of Refugees, the gender persecution experienced
by women has, for a long time, prevented them from benefiting from
international protection. At present, gender-based violence such
as female genital mutilation can lead to asylum being granted to
these women, but not everywhere and not in all circumstances.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights is another area
where migrants and refugees are often discriminated. Language barriers,
absence of documents and a lack of information about the health
system create significant obstacles for them to access health care.
Unfortunately, there is very little information on access to sexual
and reproductive health and rights for migrants and refugees, however
the existing information shows that women migrants face high maternal
mortality, unmet needs for family planning, complications following
unsafe abortions, and gender-based violence, as well as sexually
transmitted diseases, including HIV.Note
39. The situation is particularly alarming in the reception centres.
Women who are stuck there for longer periods request long-term family
planning options, contrary to the general assumption that they oppose
family planning based on cultural norms and beliefs. Yet not all
health service providers offer these services, while contraceptives,
especially long-term birth control, cannot be found in the camps.
The hospitals lack staff trained in the clinical management of rape,
and often do not have post-exposure prophylaxis available, putting
women and girls at heightened risk. Many migrant women and girls
in the reception centres face all forms of gender-based violence
and discrimination. Unaccompanied and separated girls, LGBTIQ+ persons,
and women and girls with disabilities are facing particular risks
in the context of reception.
40. Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, social anxiety,
dissociative reactions, and dangerous coping strategies appear as
some of the most recurrent psychological effects, together with
psycho-somatic consequences that affect migrants. In addition to
that, women rarely find specialist services integrated into the resettlement
system that provide them with tailored support knowing how to deal
with their particular cases and respond to their needs.
41. Shame and stigma coming from a potentially inappropriately
trained service provider, also negatively affects the survivor’s
willingness to receive care. Raising awareness in communities is
also crucial. The lack of well-trained cultural mediators, women
in particular, at times limits the access to public health services.
42. For example, frontline workers, who may not have the tools
or experience to deal effectively with the gender-specific needs
of this population, require additional support to incorporate gender
equality programming, gender-based violence awareness, sensitisation
and capacity building.
43. These conclusions were also highlighted in the monitoring
reports of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence (GREVIO)
on the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. The reports underline
the necessity of establishing gender-sensitive reception procedures,
support services and safe facilities, and, in particular, women
and girls should have access to personal asylum interviews. The
police staff should have special culturally sensitive training to
identify victims of different forms of gender-based violence.
44. The governments should increase the availability and accessibility
of gender-based violence response services in all reception settings,
while ensuring proper identification of survivors. Clear referral
pathways should be available and updated.
45. It is important to organise monitoring visits and provide
regular training on gender-based violence prevention and response
for public servants and other service providers.
46. The UNHCR has consistently recognised that special targeted
measures may be needed to address inequalities or discrimination.
Gender equality should be provided in the specific sectors of: cash-based interventions,
camp co-ordination and camp management, early recovery, education,
food security, health, livelihoods, nutrition, protection, shelter,
water, sanitation and hygiene.
47. This vulnerability is a result of restrictive migration legislation
and policies. Another important factor to take into account for
migrants and refugees is a difference in gender norms of the countries
of origin and the host countries, which may act as a barrier to
them accessing sexual and reproductive health and rights and care.
Gender-based discrimination can be detrimental to a migrant’s
integration. It is a wide topic that has been addressed in many
resolutions, such as Assembly Resolution
“Protecting refugee women and girls from gender-based
violence”. In order to eliminate such violence, one needs to halt
gender stereotypes which lie at the root of discrimination. The
implementation of gender mainstreaming in migration policies needs
first of all to address inequalities and discrimination experienced
by migrants, refugees and displaced persons on the basis of their
gender. In this regard, it is important to provide accessible information on
the regulations of the host country, covering topics such as the
labour market, access to education, health and housing.
49. The main gender inequality issues related to migration status
in the European Union countries are women’s labour market participation,
low skilled jobs and working conditions, family reunification and
gender related power dynamics, international protection and gender-based
50. Family reunification policies in many European countries impose
restrictions, which make it more difficult for women to migrate.
The income requirements of such policies limit significantly women’s
applications, as many women work informally or part-time. Also while
arriving as a family member, women often do not have an independent
right of residence and have to depend totally on their sponsor.
Such policies put women migrants in a very disadvantageous position,
in particular when in the absence of accommodation, they are forced
to leave their children behind.
51. It is important to conduct gender impact assessment of all
migration related policies, including family reunification to exclude
any kind of gender-related discrimination of migrants.
Media is often responsible for the creation of stereotypical
images of migrant women as unskilled migrants, whose role is to
take care of their families and children, and who join their husbands
as a result of family reunification policies. As a result, the migration
policies of the majority of host countries assume a “dependent”
status for women and a “independent” migrant status for men.Note
has also an impact on the types of jobs women migrants can receive,
being predominantly recruited in the domestic or service sector.
Stereotypes associated with migrant women and men constitute
one of the root obstacles to the successful integration of migrants,
especially migrant women. Migrant women and girls often face double discrimination:
they sometimes face control by their own communities as regards
cultural and religious norms and traditions, and by stereotypic
attitude and different barriers linked to it by the host society.Note
around gender, race, religion, class and socio-economic status.
These stereotypes might vary from country to country but are especially
relevant for migrant women because they impact their migration and integration
experiences and their capacity to be supported and to be visible.
54. Migrant women particularly struggle against a distorted view
of their capacity and place in society.
55. Creating a gender-sensitive culture requires an assessment
of the different needs of men and women, due to their own experiences,
which will then help to provide them with appropriate assistance
and help redress gender-based discrimination. Politicians and administrative
officials should be sanctioned for using dehumanising and hateful
language against migrants.
equality in migration policy making
The Assembly has tackled the
issue of gender equality in policy making in several resolutions. Resolution 2111 (2016)
assessed the impact of measures to improve women’s political
representation and Resolution
looked into migration from a gender perspective with
the aim of empowering women as key actors for integration. Another Resolution 2222 (2018)
“Promoting diversity and equality in politics” stressed
that elected institutions failed to mirror European societies’ diversity
in excluding certain categories of people such as women or people
with an immigration background. It states that ‘promoting greater representativeness
of elected institutions would strengthen their democratic character,
enhance the quality and legitimacy of their decision making and
increase people’s trust in the political system’.
57. Gender mainstreaming of migration policies is not only moving
towards gender equality of migrants and refugees but also towards
gender equality in policy making. A real political transformation
cannot arise without a systematic integration of the gender perspective
in migration policy making. Women should have the same opportunity
to sit in decision making bodies and influence the main decisions
relating to migrants. We need more women in migration decision-making,
not only to establish gender equality in this field, but mainly
to achieve better results. Diversity in decision-making bodies bring
innovation and better performance. I consider that it is impossible
to elaborate efficient policies in the migration field without inclusion
of all relevant actors in the process, like women and men from different
backgrounds, including migrants and refugees. Such inclusiveness
would lead to a better understanding of migrants’ living conditions
and their more effective integration in host countries. Already
in 1980, the UN General Assembly Resolution 35/135 urged ‘the High Commissioner
to work with host country Governments to encourage the participation
of women, including refugee women, in the administration of refugee
58. Being a politician myself, I would like to address the issue
of equal representation of women and men in migration policy making.
The current disbalance leads to gaps in addressing migrants’ needs.
It is clear that very often interlocutors in various migration related
ministries are dominantly men. It is also true that migration issues
tend to be referred to law enforcement institutions, while the problems
encountered by migrants are more of a social nature.
59. I believe that a greater proportion of women in the elaboration
of migration related legislation would play a part in achieving
gender equality by leading to a better understanding of the needs
of women, while not forgetting men, and thus lead to the better
integration of both women and men migrants in society.
In addition, according to a McKinsey & Company researchNote
the business companies with higher
levels of gender diversity are 15% more likely to be productive
than other companies, and companies with higher levels of ethnic
diversity are 35% more likely to outperform other companies. It
is also scientifically proven that women in decision-making positions
are more inclined to make decisions by taking the interests of multiple stakeholders
into account in order to arrive at a fair and moral decision. They
will also tend to use co-operation, collaboration and consensus
building more often and more effectively to make sound decisions.”Note
Another study conducted by neurobiologist
Ruud van den Bos from Radboud University in the Netherlands, found
that women make better decisions when under pressure and the closer
a women gets to a deadline or stressful event, the sharper her decision-making
We have seen an increasing number of studies on women leadership,
especially as mentioned during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Women’s positive inputs have also been recognised in peace making and
in contributing to security. Indeed, a growing body of research
and evidence shows that greater gender equality would make the world
more sustainable, prosperous and safer, as can be seen in the work
of the International Peace Institute on the link between women,
peace and security.Note
It has also been acknowledged by
the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
that gender equality and the full integration of women in all spheres
of society can essentially contribute to security.Note
62. In this context, the empowerment of migrant women should be
one of the priority tasks in social inclusion policies. Until today,
migrant and refugee women have been distanced from international
frameworks and processes such as the Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Commission on
the Status of Women (CSW) and Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA).
Their low participation is determined by many factors, from legal
and financial barriers to the lack of awareness about the existing mechanisms.
Migration policies do not sufficiently take into account the diversity
of migrant women’s experiences. Nevertheless, migrant women have
organised themselves in migrant and diaspora associations to represent
their interests at local and national levels. The support of local
authorities to such organisations could be a good example of an
inclusive leadership approach. Such an approach takes into account
race, social class, level of education, sexuality, and other socio-economic
factors, which have unconditional influence on women’s democratic
63. Access to citizenship and the right to vote is essential for
migrant women’s participation in the life of the host society. Migrant
women are particularly under-represented in public and political
life, as their status is very often defined by the status of their
spouses. There is also a lack of capacity building programmes for
migrant women leaders.
64. The question of representation is especially valuable: there
is an over-representation of migrant women in associations that
provide aid, and an under-representation in decision-making instances
– compared to migrant men.
65. When there is no possibility of having access to a residence,
to have a place where one can settle down, look for a job, integrate
into society, it seems complicated or even unreal to talk about
66. The right of meaningfully participating in decision-making
processes involves much more than simply voting or standing for
election. It derives from the freedom to speak out, share valuable
experiences, and build support networks; the opportunity for all
members of the community to take part in formal and non-formal participatory
mechanisms, raise awareness and influence political decisions; and
the ability to access information, build capacity and develop leadership
skills in pursuit of particular priorities and outcomes.
67. Without such participation, especially from the grassroots
level, political processes risk being more and more detached from
the reality of women’s lives.
68. Community engagement and leadership of women and girls is
lacking; it is important to encourage women’s participation providing
opportunities for community cohesion, yet also to ensure sufficient
funds for undisrupted operation of women’s safe spaces. Many women
are excluded from decision making within the household and/or the
community and lack informal support networks that provide outlets
for positive coping mechanisms and building resilience.
Promotion of gender equality in integration policies is another
important issue. As rightly stated by Vera Lomazzi and Isabella
Crespi, “gender equality, together with religious freedom, is one
of the most debated topics concerning the interaction of cultures.”Note
a balance between integration in the host society and host culture,
while keeping the identity of the country of origin is a big challenge
for migrants, but also for policy makers. They need to combine human
rights standards, defined in the European Convention on Human Rights and
other international instruments, with personal values of migrants,
which sometimes may be very different. The main danger here is to
follow ethnocentric approaches while promoting gender equality,
which can lead to ethnic discrimination and disregard of cultural
diversity. Such approaches can lead to decisions, which will provoke
confrontation, such as veil bans or forced labour market participation.
Thereby, in line with the Committee of Ministers’ Recommendation
(2015) 1 on Intercultural integration, member States of the Council of
Europe should promote intercultural integration, based on gender
equality, respect of cultural diversity and ethnic cohesion.
Mainstreaming gender equality in integration policies could
also possibly contribute to the understanding by migrant women and
men of the necessity to respect and uphold gender equality laws
71. Putting forward a gender dimension
in migration policy is fundamental for inclusive policies. Key to
a meaningful mainstreaming of a gender dimension in migration policy
is inclusion, participation, protection and non-discrimination.
No one must be left aside, and everyone has a role to play in achieving
gender equality in migration policies: policy makers, institutions,
corporations and civil society. Gender perspective does not mean
only a women’s perspective; the position, needs and vulnerabilities
of men and boys need to be taken into account equally. Any kind
of gender-based discrimination leads to important losses and waste
of resources and talents. Affirmative measures seeking to achieve
gender-balanced representation of women and men in decision making
will result in more efficient policies, which consider the interests
of all people concerned.
72. Also, it is essential to stress that women should be an integral
part of the response to migratory challenges and meaningfully involved
in all decision-making steps and that strategies should be put in
place to tackle future challenges with a gender-based approach.
73. It is time not only to promote equal participation of women
in migration decision making, but to launch a real policy transformation.
Governments need to go further than ensuring gender sensitivity
in the design of migration policies and should be careful to not
just indulge in a “gender washing” practice.
74. The Covid-19 pandemic which continues to affect the lives
of people, has shown that measures taken by governments are not
sufficient to protect migrants, and in particular migrant women,
from intersecting violence. In this context, access to health care
and vaccinations for migrants are extremely important preventive
measure to combat pandemics.