Women-friendly measures to drive better migrant integration

Migrant women face multiple challenges fully integrating into European society. This is often due to inequalities resulting from the combined effect of their gender, migrant status and ethnic background, as FRA’s latest report testifies. It underlines the need for targeted, gender-sensitive measures to compensate for such inequalities.

FRA’s report on migrant women highlights the various challenges these women face, despite their wide diversity in backgrounds, residence status and educational levels.

For example, a third of migrant women have been to university and around a third of working migrant women have highly skilled jobs.

The report also reveals wide variation across the EU Member States and minority groups surveyed. For example:

  • There is not much difference between migrant women and men when it comes to proficiency in the host country language, an important prerequisite for finding work. But some notable exceptions exist, such as among North African men and women with good Dutch in the Netherlands (80% versus 65%), and Asian men and women in Italy (49% versus 29%).
  • Overall, only 52% of migrant women surveyed are in paid work compared to 73% of migrant men. This is slightly higher than the general population’s gender gap, where 63% of women and 71% of men work. In addition, there are large differences between countries. For example, Turkish women and men in Sweden have the same employment rate (70%), whereas in Austria there is a large gender gap (30% versus 81%).
  • In Italy (37%), Spain (32%) and Austria (29%), there is a particularly high proportion of young migrant women (aged 16-24) who are not in work, education or training.
  • Hate-motivated harassment and violence rates are similar between men and women. But for women the perpetrators more often involve someone they know (a neighbour, acquaintance, friend or relative). And twice as many women as men are worried about potential intimidation or retaliation by the perpetrator if they report the incident to the authorities.

Such figures underline the need for gender-sensitive measures and support to increase societal participation and inclusion in society. These could range from offering childcare to targeted training opportunities for migrant women, including languages classes.

The report also draws attention to the fact that twice as many women as men migrated for family reasons. This can make them dependent on their husbands for finding work or getting residency permits, for example. Member States should minimise this dependency in line with EU family reunification guidance and reduce administrative delays in processing permits.

In addition, the findings challenge the popular perception that migrants are often socially segregated and hold traditional views. On average, over 80% of migrant men and women have friends without any minority background and favour gender equality.

This selected findings report draws on information collected in 19 EU Member States from over 16,000 face-to-face interviews with immigrants and descendants of immigrants, half of whom are women. It was part of FRA’s second EU-wide survey of minorities’ experiences and perceptions of discrimination and harassment.