Refugee girls and women: Moving forward on migration policy

On 7 December, the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU hosted two panel discussions on women and girls in EU migration policy. The discussions provided input to political decision making processes in the field of migration.

  • Opening of dicussions

    Helena Lagerlöf, Minister Counsellor at the Representation of Sweden to the EU, welcomed the discussion about refugee girls and women.

    Photo: Representation of Sweden to the EU

  • Salome Mbugua, founder of AkiDwA and President of the European Network of Migrant Women

    - Gender-neutral migration policy is problematic. Empowerment for refugee girls is the magic that makes the difference. The key is education, awareness-raising activities and information about rights and health, as well as access to contraceptives, stressed Salome Mbugua, founder of AkiDwA, and President of the European Network of Migrant Women.

    Photo: EU Representation of Sweden to the EU

"If you close your eyes and imagine a migrant child, what do you see?"

These were the opening words of Anna Zobnina, Strategy and Policy Coordinator for the European Network of Migrant Women, to participants.

"The question is my way of shedding light on the fact that although this is a common situation, we most likely don't picture a pregnant 15-year-old girl who either faces a life-threatening abortion or is at risk of getting murdered if she returns," she explains.

The discussions reflected on two main premises. Firstly, that refugee women and girls face specific threats, including human trafficking, exploitation and sexual violence, and denial of their basic human rights. And secondly, that despite recent developments and practice, the capacities of refugee women and girls are often overlooked, for example in decision-making processes.

The aim was for migrant-led women´s organisations to share their input on the UN Global Compact for Refugees and on EU policy more broadly and to formulate recommendations in advance of the European Council on 14-15 December.

"This opportunity allowed for a rare discussion on the gender dimension and for the presentation of recommendations on how to improve inclusion of the special needs and rights of women and girl refugees," says Catherine Woollard, Secretary-General of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, who moderated the two panel discussions on protection and empowerment.

CARE International, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, the European Network of Migrant Women and the Melissa Network organised the discussions, hosted by the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the EU.

Outcome of the discussions on the website of the humanitarian organisation CARE International:
Outcome

Sweden has a Feminist Government and a Feminist Foreign Policy