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Family Reunification is central to the well-being of migrant women and to the successful integration of their families, say EWL and European Network of Migrant Women

Joint ENoMW-EWL Statement on the occasion of the international day of families

[Brussels, 15 May 2011] Since its formation in 2007, the European Network of Migrant Women (ENoMW) has worked to draw attention to the importance of family reunification policies for migrant women – both for their well-being and for the integration chances of their families as a whole. The practice of tying residence permits and rights to the fortunes of a primary migrant reinforces gender inequalities within migrant communities. The ENoMW and the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) see ‘dependent status’ is an unnatural family situation in itself, which has detrimental effects on women, in terms of their social inclusion, self-confidence and realisation in life.

The ENoMW and the EWL maintain that family members’ access to autonomous permits is a weakness in most EU countries. This puts many migrant women experiencing domestic violence in a precarious situation. The migrant women in question are inclined to endure domestic abuse longer, as they are threatened with the possibility of becoming undocumented, homeless and without means of support. Therefore, the ENoMW and the EWL call on EU governments to put an end to policies establishing dependency between family members.

In addition, the ENoMW and the EWL are increasingly worried that more and heavier conditions are attached to the family reunification rights of immigrants in Europe, with many countries requiring high incomes for family reunion. Conditions linked to income and housing for example put migrant women at a direct disadvantage because they are often low earners and employed in low skilled jobs such as domestic work. This results in migrant women having fewer chances in qualifying for reunification with their family members. The ENoMW and the EWL call for gender sensitive family reunification policies that recognise the specifics in migrant women’s lives and promote their chances at happiness within their families and communities.

Note to editors:

The European Network of Migrant Women (ENoMW) is an innovative network bringing together more than one hundred non-governmental and non-profit organisations from 16 European Union countries to democratically represent the concerns, needs and interests of migrant women at EU-level.

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union (EU), working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men. EWL membership extends to organisations in all 27 EU member states and three of the candidate countries, as well as to 21 European-wide bodies, representing a total of more than 2500 organisations.

Download the Statement here:

statement ewl enomw 15112011 2

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