Women Refugees top of the agenda for International Women's Day 2016
Policy leaders and practitioners joined together at Europe House in London on 4th March to discuss the refugee crisis and what more Europe can do to assist women facing hazardous journeys across the continent. The seminar aimed to raise awareness ahead of International Women's Day and the publication of an in-depth study of gender and asylum policy for the European Parliament by Mary Honeyball, Labour MEP for London.
The BBC's Razia Iqbal led conversation with Honeyball, who was able to share insight from her report on the conditions facing refugees and the specific needs of women. The MEP called for gender-sensitivity in European asylum procedure, a motion that was subsequently backed by the European Parliament in its March plenary vote.
They were joined on the panel by Rahela Sidiqi, trustee of Women for Refugee Women, and Dr Michelle Jasmin Dimasi, Strategy and Commercial Manager for Maximus Gulf.
Sidiqi gave moving testimony of women's experience in the asylum system and the need to address conditions in reception facilities, while Dr Dimasi was able to give examples of improvement measures uncovered in her work specialising in care and support programmes for refugees, such as having female interpreters to ensure women are able to speak openly about their situation.
Questions from the audience covered a wide range of topics, including coercion and sexual violence on refugee and trafficking routes, accommodation and processing practices in Member States, as well as the wider debate on migration policy at the European Union level.