All refugees face great hardship but among the most vulnerable of those travelling to the EU in search of protection from war, human rights abuses and deprivation are women and girls. Because of their gender, they are often the victim of violence and discrimination. The European Parliament is dedicating this year's International Women's Day on 8 March to them in order to raise awareness of their situation.
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, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Tuesday.
Opening an extraordinary session with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on the occasion of International Women's Day, Parliament’s President Martin Schulz highlighted Parliament's continuous efforts to combat all forms of violence against women, be it in their home countries, when fleeing or upon arrival in the EU. Mr Grandi called on the EU to reaffirm its values and to reject “blanket” return policies without stipulating safeguard clauses.
Parliament has dedicated this year's International Women's Day to women refugees in the EU. We talked to MEP Mary Honeyball, a UK member of the S&D group, and French photographer Marie Dorigny to get their views on their situation as they are both experts on it. Honeyball has written a report on women refugees, which MEPs vote on in plenary on 8 March, while Dorigny travelled to Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Germany to create a reportage on women refugees for Parliament.
Women and girls fleeing war and conflicts face violence at all stages of their odyssey to the EU: be it in their home country, during their journey to a safe haven, or in Europe.
International Women’s Day is held every year on 8 March. This year Parliament has selected women refugees as its theme and it also features on the plenary agenda this week. On Tuesday MEPs debate and vote on a report on women refugees, drafted by Mary Honeyball (S&D, UK). MEPs debate the current refugee crisis with Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for refugees, focussing on the situation of women. Follow the plenary session live online.
For this year's International Women’s Day, the European Parliament focuses on the situation of women refugees. Fleeing war and conflicts in their home countries, women and young girls are exposed to various risks and are among the most vulnerable. Statistics show that in 2015 two out of five female asylum seekers in Germany were aged under 18. For more details on female refugees, check out our infographic.
Report on women refugees
Award-winning French photojournalist Marie Dorigny travelled to Greece, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Germany from December 2015 to January 2016 at the request of the EP seeking to capture on film the plight of women refugees ahead of this year's International Women's Day. Her photos can be seen in Parliament's visitors centre in Brussels until 1 June as well as in information offices around the EU. Other related activities are also organised in many European capitals.