[Brussels, 21 April 2016] On Wednesday 19 April, women’s organisations, NGOs, decision-makers and foundations gathered in Brussels at the #womensvoices Forum, to discuss the issue of violence against refugee women and girls. Hosted by the European Foundation Centre, and through both plenary exchange and interactive group discussions, the event delivered concrete and creative outcomes in terms of feminist demands for women and girls refugees and asylum seekers.
From January to June 2016, the EWL is developing, together with the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) and the European Network of Migrant Women (ENoMW), the #womensvoices project, which aims to raise awareness on the situation of women and girls fleeing conflict and traveling through Europe, looking especially at the protection risks they face in terms of male violence against women and their links with the current asylum policies.
The project “From conflict to peace? Women’s and girls’ voices on the move” will develop strong recommendations to decision-makers to ensure protection of women and girls refugees and asylum seekers from all forms of male violence, at all stages of their journey towards peace.
As a mid-term step, the #womensvoices Forum was a unique time to exchange on the refugee situation in each country (especially in Central Europe, the Balkans and Baltic States, as well as Germany and Sweden), to learn from the experience of partner NGOs and to engage with the European Commission and international organisations such as UN Women. We heard from Catriona Gray, assistant to the Member of the European Parliament (EP) Mary Honeyball, on the EP resolution on the situation of refugee women and girls, which highlights the need for gender-sensitive policies in asylum policies. We also heard from Dooa, who told us about her personal journey as a refugee woman in Belgium, and the impact of the lack of gender-sensitivity of the asylum procedures and staff.
The #womensvoices project identified three key issues:
- Violence against women and girls refugees: Biljana Nastovska, expert to the EWL Observatory, made a presentation on the reality of violence faced by women and girls in Macedonia. Then, during the group discussions, participants shared best practices to ensure that policies and measures on violence against women take into account the needs of refugee women and girls.
- The reality on the ground: Marcy Hersh, from the Women’s Refugee Commission, presented the outcomes of their three field assessments in Europe in terms of protection risks for refugee women and girls. Then, during the group discussions, participants created a check list of women’s demands on the ground, based on a tree, and highlighting the role of women’s organisations (through squirrels!).
- Engendering the asylum policies: Debora Singer, from Asylum Aid UK, presented a case to explain what engendering the asylum procedures means. Then, during the group discussions, participants listed the indicators needed to engender the different aspects of the asylum processes.
You can access here the PPT which presents EWL past and current work on asylum, violence against women, and migrant women. The PPT also contains detailed information about the project #womensvoices. Thanks a lot to all participants, EWL members and key partners for this very creative and fuirtful Forum!
The closing event of the project will be on 2nd June in Brussels. Stay tune to join us! #womensvoices
- Violence against refugee women and girls
- The reality on the ground
- Engendering the asylum policies