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Women on the Move: Precarious Journeys - Protection for Women Refugees

All refugees face great hardship but women and girls are among the most vulnerable of those travelling to the EU in search of protection from war, human rights abuses and deprivation. Because of their gender, they are often the victims of violence and discrimination. On Friday 22 April, European Parliament Vice President Mairead McGuinness (EPP) and Mary Honeyball (UK S & D) hosted a roundtable meeting to discuss the specific needs of women refugees and what more can be done to assist women facing hazardous journeys across the continent. The event was organised jointly with the Immigrant Council of Ireland.

Participants came from NGOs that are on the front-line in helping women refugees and included The Immigrant Council of Ireland, Wezesha, Refugee Appeals Tribunal , UNHCR, Red Cross, International Organisation of Migration, National Women’s Council of Ireland, Health Services Executive, AHTU Department Justice and Equality, An Garda Siochana, Migrant Rights Centre, Ireland Reception and Integration Agency, Irish Refugee Council, CORI, Doras Luimni, APT, Ruhama, Ms Razan Ibraheem , Syrian Journalist and Activist

Following the meeting, Mairead McGuinness MEP, said “The harsh reality for many women and girls fleeing conflict is that their journey, which begins because of violence, is fraught with further violence and abuse including rape and gender based abuse.

“These women very often suffer in silence and carry that suffering with them throughout their lives.”

“Tragically many are being let down by a system that traps them in limbo and fails to deal in a remotely adequate way with their personal traumas.”

“For as long as this situation continues, it undermines and erodes the very idea of EU solidarity and it diminishes the humanity of all who allow it to prevail.”

Mary Honeyball MEP, author of the European Parliament’s Report on the situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU, said "For too long, the needs of women seeking asylum have been overlooked. Asylum is not gender neutral and it is essential that our laws and policies reflect that and take account of gender at every stage of the asylum process.”

"For women and girls fleeing conflict, violence is an everyday reality. Many women experience violence in their countries of origin, transit and on arrival in the EU. One of the main obstacles for women's safety is the lack of safe and legal routes to the EU and my report called alternatives such as resettlement to be used.”

"On arrival at reception centres these already vulnerable women, who may be victims of sexual violence, trafficking or other violent crimes, face additional barriers. But pressure on asylum systems should never excuse failure to protect women from violence nor should women seeking asylum experience any double standards - they should have the same rights as other victims of gender-based violence.”

"Member states and the EU together have responsibility to act to protect the most vulnerable."

Notes for Editors

In March the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for a reform of EU migration and asylum policies and procedures needs to include gender-sensitive measures to ensure the safety of women seeking asylum, many of whom travel with young children and other dependents


EP resolution on the situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU
Gender aspects of migration and asylum in the EU: An overview