NGO expert group brainstormingOn April 8 the European Network of Migrant Women held a hearing in the Parliament on ‘Migrant Women: Essential Contributors to the EU Labour Market’ hosted by MEP Jean Lambert (Green/EFA, UK). Here are some of the views presented:

Ms Zobnina, a researcher from Cyprus Mediterranean Institute of Gender Studies, described how migrant women’s labour confidence and productivity leads them to fall out of the job market; obstacles of being over-skilled and/or de-skilled needs to be addressed in a wider context of employment policies. Also it needs to be acknowledged how these obstacles are different for women entering as economic migrants, through marriage, as students, asylum seekers or on investment schemes. In many member states public sector jobs are closed for people without citizenship and women are forced into domestic work and the care sector.

10154521_617228165014332_5648292417400337009_nMr Huddleston from Migration Policy Group explained how immigrant employment has to be more specific than the Europe 2020 Strategy target of 75% in employment. We need to understand that this is a labour market issue and women’s reality on the job market has an effect on migrant women too; if women have better outcomes than this will also mean that migrant women will have better outcomes. It’s the labour market reforms that need to be influenced, such as the EU semester and the Country Specific Recommendations also DG EMPL can do more for recognition of qualifications.

Ms Schultz from DG HOME informed that the Commission is working on the issue from a gender equality perspective with DG JUSTICE and with DG EMPL. In 2011 the Commission identified how migrant women have lower levels of employment and have since contracted Migration Policy Group to learn more. Figures from 2012 show how third country national women’s overall unemployment in the EU was 44% compared to national women where the figure was 58%. Recent achievements by the Commission are how the communication for the ‘post Stockholm’ guidelines for the first time explicitly mentions gender balance and the employment gap for migrant women. Further, the new Family Reunification Directive guidelines mention how integration measures have to be gender sensitive and give migrant women access to rights. More is needed but hopefully the new Migration and Asylum Fund can also support further work in this area.

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