The human rights of the EU’s migrants and asylum seekers, an increasing proportion of whom are women, have been a case of particular concern for the EWL.
Asylum has been a key area of EWL work since 2001 as women’s experience of political activities and persecution may differ from those of men. The concept of both politics and persecution have historically been interpreted by States through a framework of male experience, thus often excluding women’s political opinions on gender roles as well as acts of gender-based violence and/or discrimination by either State or non-State actors. Without integrating a gender perspective throughout the asylum process, the adherence to a male heterosexual norm risks resulting in many women and girls, including lesbian and bisexual women and girls, being wrongfully denied refugee status and protection under international human rights and refugee law.
The EWL promotes in general a gender aware approach to immigration policies that would introduce a shift from the predominant view of female immigrants as simply the wives and children of male immigrants to incorporating an understanding of women’s human rights and of the unique experiences of women. At the same time, the EWL has been running a project since 2006 for and with migrant women’s organisations across Europe that aims to actively involve migrant women in the development, monitoring and implementation of policies at the European level: ’Equal Rights. Equal Voices. Migrant Women in the European Union’. One of the main achievements of this project has been the launch on 18 June 2010 of the European Network of Migrant Women, an independent network that is since 2009 an EWL Associate Member. The project has been supported by the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM) of the Network of European Foundations, as well as the Sigrid Rausing Trust and Barrow Cadbury Trust.
For a comprehensive overview of the current situation in terms of women and Immigration, Integration and Asylum in the EU, and the most recent European policies in this area, see the chapter in the EWL’s Beijing+15 Report on the Human Rights of Women.