NEWS

Special advocacy for the women

Immigration was responsible for a large chunk of the European Union’s economic development in 2003, said Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, an MEP from the New Democracy party and a member of the Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. Some 54 percent of immigrants are women, while about 19 percent of immigrants are without work. Unemployment rates are about the same for foreign-born men and women living in Europe. However, women who are better educated tend to have higher jobless levels than do men with the same qualifications. Under the table Women who are legal immigrants work mainly on the black market and in under-the-table jobs such as field hands, cleaners or domestic workers. «Most member states do not appear to have taken into systematic consideration any women’s issues in immigration on a policy level or a fact-gathering level,» said Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou, who wants to elaborate on the immigration report by adding a section on the rights of female immigrants. Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou’s proposals on women’s rights in immigration include: Evaluating existing policies: So far, the MEP says, problems are cropping up because there hasn’t been a serious evaluation of existing policies. Acclimatizing immigrants: It is of the utmost importance that new immigrants learn both the language and the customs of their new land as well as the existing laws. They must learn about employment policies and they must be encouraged to enter the work force, where their rights must always be respected. The European Commission, with the help of the appropriate social groups, must help them in these areas. Integrating immigrants into education: Young immigrants have particular problems when it comes to integrating into a new school system. Positive action can be taken to help curb this problem and reverse the gloomy situation for young migrants. Social involvement: Strengthening the involvement of immigrants at all levels of social life will help lift migrants from isolation in their new country. An important element of integration involves the development of a dialogue with authorities and social groups. Also, immigrants who have lived in Europe for a while could form advocacy groups to help new immigrants along. Female immigrants who have already integrated into their new country could especially help foreign women who have newly arrived there. Sensitizing society: Any action that is taken must include measures to sensitize Europeans to the importance of immigration, the role of female immigrants, their particular problems and the care that must be taken to make sure these problems are handled well.