In its new Opinion on the “Integration of women, mothers and families with a migrant background in the EU Member States and target language levels for integration“, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) is calling on the Commission to adopt a new “Initiative on Integration and Inclusion” with holistic approach to the integration of migrant women encompassing fundamental rights, social and labour inclusion, education, culture, justice and health.
EESC notes that across all Member States there is little evidence of action plans and strategies with a particular focus on women or gender issues and there are indications that women with migrant backgrounds, including minority ethnic and black women in particular, face multiple or intersectional discrimination in many areas of social life, including employment and education, and in particular face barriers in accessing healthcare services.
The COVID-19 crisis has only aggravated the situation, disproportionately affecting migrants and migrant women in particular. In light of this, the EESC urges the Member States to provide free training on the use of digital devices, document management, looking for work and remote working and provide access to crisis support and legal advice for people with economic difficulties and/or at risk of social exclusion. The establishment of better systems for assessing educational credentials and providing gender-specific support programmes can facilitate women’s entry into the labour market.
The EESC believes that language skills, employment and the quality of employment are interrelated and that therefore the better the language skills, the more likely it is that a newcomer will have access to good jobs and education opportunities and better integrate into society in general. Unfortunately, only a few Member States follow a needs-based approach to language learning by opening courses to all residents with limited language proficiency. According to the report, several Member States provide access to such courses only for beneficiaries of humanitarian protection. Language-learning programmes are rarely linked to employment, and job-specific, on-the-job and higher-level language training courses are also rare. In other courses offered, migrants need to pay for the courses in advance and are only reimbursed if they pass the final exams.
For more information on EESC’s Opinion, please visit the EESC’s website.
For more information on Eurodiaconia’s work in this area, please see Eurodiaconia’s Guidelines for the Integration of Migrant women and our report on Promoting Access to Employment for Migrants and Refugees or visit our migration thematic page.