European Union is known to have a strong position on Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG). This position, however, does not equally address all women, with migrant and refugee women often falling between the legal cracks in the protection and prevention measures. In 2017, European Commission held a year of focused action to combat VAWG. In that same year, the EU, jointly with the UN, committed to establishing a joint multi donor trust fund (Spot-Light Initiative) intended to combat the global scourge of violence against women and girls and highlight the role of gender equality as a driver for the achievement of all Sustainable Development Goals.
Two important global frameworks were also established in 2017 as a response to the increasing voluntary and forced movement of people – the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Migration.
The European Network of Migrant Women believes that that the two compacts nearing finalisation, present an important opportunity for the global community to re-think traditional masculine approach to migration. With more and more women and girls leaving their homes because of economic, safety and security reasons, it is crucial that all negotiations on the two compacts account for the sex-based discrimination as one of the leading causes for women seeking asylum, the situations of heightened vulnerability which women-on-the-move experience in their journeys and the endemic male violence they fall victims of. Apart from acknowledging the status of women as ‘victims’, it is not less important that the two compacts recognise women as leaders, decision-makers and equal negotiators.
In line with these objectives European Network of Migrant Women partnered with CARE International UK, European Council on Refugees and Exiles, Melissa Migrant Women Network Greece and Women Refugee Route, supported by CPDE, to deliver an advocacy action on the Refugee Girl-Child. This specific focus on young female refugees is not accidental. Too often the frameworks on children fail to acknowledge the fundamental differences in the experience between girls and boys. With practically all forms of Gender Based Violence starting at an early age and with the girl-child established as a specific area of concern by the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995, the Networks thought it was high time to draw attention of the policymakers to the situation of young females, the obstacles their face and the opportunities they miss. We also thought it important to highlight the leadership potential of young female refugees.
Firstly, on 7 December we organised a conference in Brussels, ahead of the UN High-Level Dialogue on Refugees where the Global Compact was set to be discussed. The conference was hosted by the Swedish Permanent Representation to the UN and brought together relevant policymakers from EU institutions, Council of Europe, partner NGOs and members to identify the various gaps in policy, services and funding that expose young female migrants to gender-based risks and deprive them of exercising their human rights.
Good practices developed by migrants and women-led organisations that cater for women and girls refugees in Europe were shared in the conference. The Swedish government, with its Feminist Foreign Policy, supported the positioning of women’s needs and leadership in the spotlight ahead of the negotiations in Geneva.
Report from Swedish Mission can be found here: http://www.government.se/articles/2017/12/refugee-girls-and-women-moving-forward-on-migration-policy/
Following this, ENOMW hosted a round table discussion with CARE in Geneva on the same subject. The discussion was facilitated by the Canadian mission, with the representatives of the EU member states to the UN, UNHCR, and a number of international NGOs.
After the round table, ENOMW attended the High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protection Challenges: Towards the Global Compact on Refugees where it achieved relative success in establishing important connections with a pool of multi-sectoral actors involved in the negotiations on the Global Compacts.
With both Compacts still being negotiated, ENOMW advocacy on protecting the girl-child is not over. ENOMW is working on the final policy recommendations.
For more information, contact: Anna Zobnina, firstname.lastname@example.org , European Network of Migrant Women