EIGE study: EU and member states must increase their attention to gender issues in education and training policies for migrants and refugees


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The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has published a new study: Gender-sensitive education and training for the integration of third-country nationals. ETUCE was consulted as part of the research, which shows that the gender perspective is neglected in most policies and actions on the integration of migrants in Europe. Education trade unions have expertise and influence which we use to remind policymakers about the importance of gender equality in all aspects of education policy.

The EU and its member states have a legal obligation to embed a gender equality perspective in all policy areas, including the integration of migrants and in education and training. However, EIGE’s new research shows that there is still a lot of work to do. The study finds that most EU and member state policies take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to education for migrants and refugees from outside the EU – known as third-country nationals. The EU’s commitment to a dual approach on gender equality, combining gender mainstreaming and specific actions, is hardly reflected in policies or programmes for the integration of migrants through education.

Across the EU, 20% of migrant women and 15% of migrant men (aged 15-24) are neither in education nor working. There are further differences between migrant women and men which mean that policymakers must maintain a gender perspective. While migrant boys are more likely to quit school early, female third-country nationals face specific problems around their vulnerability and care responsibilities. Indeed, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, in a 2019 report on minorities and discrimination focusing on migrant women, found that migrant women are often doubly disadvantaged when it comes to education and employment.

The updated ETUCE Action Plan on Gender Equality addresses the intersectional nature of many inequalities. For example, it takes into consideration that traditional social gender roles and the lack of accessible childcare services are both among the major reasons why so many young migrant women are not in work, education or training. Furthermore, ETUCE and EFEE have developed Joint Practical Guidelines on how to promote effective integration of migrant and refugee learners and a proposal for a Quality Framework for an Effective Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees in Education. ETUCE and its member organisations promote the educational integration of migrant and refugee children, young people and adults at all levels of education, with an intersectional approach to potential risks of discrimination and exclusion.

ETUCE European Director Susan Flocken comments: “In our increasingly diverse societies, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to education and training policies is just not enough. Policymakers need to engage with the patchwork of identities and social situations that give every individual their unique reality. Gender and migration are two of the most important factors, and they interact in complex ways. Education trade unions across Europe are doing great work to build and share expertise about how gender and migration issues affect education systems and personnel. We will continue to put these perspectives at the heart of policymaking and social dialogue in education.”