In light of the Ukraine crisis, where a majority of the refugees who came to the EU were women and children, policymakers and authorities are concerned about how to implement ‘gender responsive’ and ‘gender sensitive’ or ‘gender aware’ initiatives without reproducing gender stereotypes but instead respond to newcomers’ specific needs.
In this ITFLOWS project report, we draw such lessons from the EU integration and inclusion policies and practices towards third country nationals (thereafter – migrants). We pose three main research questions: 1) to what extent do integration policies and programmes reflect critically on ‘gender’ by challenging intersecting structural hierarchies, or put another way, reproducing stereotypical imaginaries and norms? 2) How can we explain the gendered integration outcomes of migrants in the labour market? 3) What are some promising or interesting practices to address the three key issues identified – the overqualification of migrant women, intersectional discrimination in the labour market, and care responsibilities as a barrier to the labour market participation of women?
We recommend that EU and national policymakers consider the following principles:
- First, policies should be grounded on the ‘do no harm’ principle, as evidence shows that moving from incorrect assumptions or trying to address a wrongly framed problem may produce unintended consequences and lead to the creation of new challenges.
- Second, policies should be ‘needs based’, and gender-responsive needs to be addressed should be identified and articulated by migrant men and women. The FRA EU-MIDIS II Survey presents a very important tool for policymakers to identify what people consider important regarding their access to rights, in particular labour rights.
- Third, the proposed initiatives need to be agency advancing or empowering, as well as participative and inclusive. This is to ensure that migrant representatives, including migrant-women organisations, take the lead and cooperate closely with local authorities, civil society and various service providers, not only in the implementation, but also in the design and monitoring of policy responses.