Go to the main content


International Women’s Day: migrant women make a significant contribution around the world. Yet, they suffer from pervasive gender inequalities

Published on 08/03/2021

International Women’s Day is the moment to celebrate how far women have come in all the spheres of society, while still raising awareness of continued gender inequality and demand for equal rights.

When it comes to migrant women, such inequalities are even higher, suffering from a triple disadvantage situation based on migration, gender and ethnicsprejudices, stereotypes and social constraints. Despite such adverse situations, migrant women around the world have shown strength and resilience. Each year, some 100 million migrant women send remittances to their countries of origin; Despite the persistent gender pay gap, they tend to send a larger share of their wages than men and to do so more regularly.

If we look at migrant women in the EU, their presence and contribution have been on the rise. While in past decades migration flows towards EU countries were predominantly men, this tendency has drastically changed, with an increasing arrival of migrant women, though family reunification but also with their own personal project or as labour migrants, high-skilled workers or asylum seekers. 

Many of these women face non-respect of their rights, including multiple forms of discrimination based on factors including sex, gender roles, race, sexuality,  ethnicity, religion, and immigration status, putting them at a higher risk of experiencing violence, poverty, and social exclusion. 

Nonetheless, this issue does not receive enough visibility in the political debate. While the main focus tends to be the labour market integration of male migrants, which gives them more autonomy and visibility, migrant women are less encouraged and less expected to find a job. 

Migrant women are more likely to be over-qualified and have worse employment outcomes in comparison with migrant men and native-born women. It is important to remember that being employed is not synonymous with being socio-economic integrated. It is very frequent to observe how working in well-identified feminised sectors, such as care and domestic work– with over 80% of domestic workers being women in Europe, deeply entrenched gender inequalities, resulting in an exclusion of access to services and rights and in the increasing of  “poor” women workers.

Furthermore, given the constraints of migration, gender-based violence (GBV) is widespread amongst migrant women. Studies have shown the connection between migration and  GBV in the context of class, gender and culture. Whilst GBV is a global problem, factors such as xenophobia, immigration policy, language and cultural barriers, unemployment, unequal gender relations in the migration context, to some extent, exacerbate GBV. Migrants women have responded differently to domestic abuse given their socio-economic and cultural factors. Unemployment, lack of knowledge of the host country’s language and educational status issues impact women’s vulnerability towards suffering and to not speak up about GBV. 

Watch our video to celebrate migrant women here: http://bit.ly/3egtbwr

EPIC is committed to raising awareness about the existing prejudices and inequalities migrant women experience and supporting initiatives aiming to empower migrant women for a fairer society. 

Some examples are the projects that the EPIC partners, Solidaridad Sin Fronteras, JRS Portugal, ALDA and the Municipality of Brescia are currently implementing: 

Power Up_ Empowering and Upskilling women with a migrant background to foster their social and labour inclusion (2019-2021) – Solidaridad Sin Fronteras

This project pursues the following objectives:

  • Equip professionals and volunteers dealing with women with a migrant background with practical knowledge and innovative techniques to deliver an empowerment-based and competency-based intervention.
  • Enhance the key social, civic and entrepreneurial competences of women with a migrant background to promote their social and financial independence and their participation in social and civic life.
  • Involve male members of the family and community in the empowerment of women.
  • Provide guidelines and recommendations to decision and policy makers to enable the social and labour inclusion of women with a migrant background.

More info and results: https://powerupproject.eu/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Power-Up-Project-110824037066236

BOOST. Global competence for advancing social inclusion and career path of vulnerable women (2020-2022) – Solidaridad Sin Fronteras

BOOST will equip professionals with a bespoke coaching programme to better support these women to use global competence to cope with challenges they face every day.  A multilingual MOOC offering a flexible microlearning path on global competence for both target groups (women and professionals) is in process.

BOOST adopts a bottom-up approach and involves both target groups in all key phases of the project, including development, design, testing, validation, mainstream, dissemination, deployment.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BOOST-106067664670734

“Caring without borders” project – JRS Portugal 

This project is carried out by JRS Portugal in association with two other associations: Amara and Linque. The project implementation began in January 2021, in an online format, and aims to train 36 migrant women in the area of basic care for the elderly with a focus on palliative care. The course consists of different modules: personal development, embracing life by accepting death, primary care for the elderly and job search techniques.

Cláudia Santos, JRS academy coordinator, explains that this is an opportunity to respond to a more “vulnerable” segment of the population, such as women with dependent children, often alone, who come to Portugal in search of better living conditions, and who need some new skills.

The project has received the BPI award ”la Caixa” Solidarity 2020 which aims to promote the development of technical and personal competences by migrants to enter the job market and to combat prejudice.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/133133230037212/posts/3886388584711639/ 

BRIGHT Project – Building RIGHTS-based and Innovative Governance for EU mobile women (2019- 2021) – ALDA

This project, funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizens program, supports the access to gender-responsive public services (social housing, public transport to the workplace, community solution for children, etc.) for Romanian and Bulgarian women employed in low standard labour sectors in Southern Italy.  

The project pursues the following objectives:

  • Raise the awareness and exercise the EU citizenships rights of mobile women employed in low-labour standards sectors;
  • Improve social inclusion and democratic participation of 800 Romanian and Bulgarian mobile women employed in agriculture in Southern Italy;
  • Enhance the capacity of local institutions and encourage European countries to adopt participatory governance systems that enable the participation of EU mobile women in decision-making processes.

To reach these goals, the project aims to establish a collaborative process among local institutions, EU citizens, employers, trade unions, and CSOs to identify common needs and co-design services in order to adopt Public-Public Partnership Agreements.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrightForWomen

“Mothers go back to school – Literacy and Active citizenship Path in the city Educational Institutes” – Commune di Brescia

The project conceived by the Municipality of Brescia, provides Italian literacy courses and organises visits to the most important places from the historical and cultural point of view, as well as to the services offered by the city to mothers of migrant pupils. 

The project pursues the following objectives:

  • Improve communication between school and migrant families
  • Provide to migrant mothers opportunities for learning and socialisation 
  • Accompany migrant mothers to become autonomous
  • Make migrant mothers  protagonists in the growth of their children even outside the family environment
  • Promote active citizenship and greater awareness of those entering school.

Our newsletter

Sign up for the latest news, events and developments of the EPIC project and migrant integration policy across Europe.

Subscribe now

Follow us

Follow us on our social media!

Translate »