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Integration of female immigrants in labour market and society. Policy assessment and policy recommendations

Final Report Summary - FEMIPOL (Integration of female immigrants in labour market and society. Policy assessment and policy recommendations)

The integration of migrants in the European Union became of major importance given the economic and social aspects of demographic aging. European policy on integration explicitly targeted women, who, during the recent past, were mostly employed within informal labour markets, such as domestic services, sex industries, agriculture and tourism.

The FEMIPOL project assessed the impact of social and labour market policies, including integration and migration policies, on the position of new female migrants, both with and without legal status. Recommendations for more appropriate policies which could foster integration and produce greater social cohesion where thus formulated. Special attention was given to the most exploited groups, such as domestic workers, prostitutes and victims of trafficking.

The research included eleven national cases from old and new immigration countries, old and new EU Member States and old and new market economies, in order to accurately represent varying conditions of different societies. The following methods were employed to explore the impact of policies for female migrants' integration:
1. document analysis;
2. expert interviews to gain insights into policies implementation;
3. focused narrative interviews with social service officers and
4. biographical narrative interviews with migrant women.

A cross-national comparative analysis of the collected data was subsequently carried out to draw policy recommendations. The analysis included numerous different aspects related to the extent of migrant women integration, such as examination of economy informal sectors, determination of the extent to which the welfare system elimination affects migrants' position, analysis of the linguistic barriers, investigation of the potential and barriers towards exploiting professional skills, revision of the applied policies in prostitution and entertainment sectors and examination of trafficking conditions.

FEMIPOL focused both on general policies, such as reintegration of the unemployed into the labour market, and on policies which explicitly addressed migrants and their integration, such as rules and regulations aiming to support the adjustment of the newcomers to the destination society.

The results of the analysis called into question the opposition of social exclusion and integration and provided insights into the integration dynamics. The paradoxical coexistence of integration, irregularity and exclusion was observed while investigating the way migrants coped with irregularity. Irregular residence often proved to function as a pre-phase to regular residence and social integration, since most women tried to legalise their status within the society. A demand for recognition of cultural difference was rarely observed; however, a demand for equality irrespective of membership in ethnical and religious groups was apparent.

FEMIPOL resulted in the following recommendations for better integration policies:
1. create immigration channels in order to offer chances of legal immigration and limit informal labour markets;
2. revise policies which downsized the welfare system, such as reduced support for the unemployed and limited care provisions , with simultaneous decoupling of integration policies and control objectives;
3. enable utilisation of human capital and educational resources, through the offer of language courses;
4. strengthen civil society agents;
5. revaluate, formalise and professionalise domestic and care work and open options for women wishing to exit the sector;
6. empower migrant women working in prostitution through the provision of rights;
7. combat trafficking and safeguard human rights by empowering victims' position through provision of rights.