The EU Parliament’s Women’s Rights Committee organised an Interparliamentary Committee Meeting on Thursday 3 March to mark International Women’s Day by focussing on women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU. Presided by Women’s Rights Committee Chair Iratxe García-Pérez (S&D, Spain) and commenced by EU Parliament President Martin Schulz and Nawal Soufi, a social activist involved with helping newly arrived refugees in Greece and Italy, the day focussed on meeting the particular needs of women and girls with workshops on violence, health and integration.
President Mary Robinson opened the meeting with a speech about the need to preserve the dignity and uphold the rights of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU:
“We cannot claim ignorance of the grave risks faced by women and girls seeking sanctuary at a time of great upheaval. We know that women are disproportionately vulnerable when forcibly displaced from their homes. Existing social inequalities based on gender roles are exacerbated as traditional support structures and formal justice systems break down. We know that women face increased risks of violence, sexual assault, exploitation and trafficking. We have heard the reports from the UNHCR and others of the increased incidence of transactional sex, as women are forced to resort to desperate measures to “pay for” travel documents on their journey. We know that barriers to reproductive health care result in increased prevalence of maternity related deaths.
“If we know all this, then is it not inhumane and unconscionable to fail to act? The violent scenes of police action against migrants at either end of Europe diminish us all. The European Union must immediately undertake a coordinated fair and robust response to secure the rights and safety of women and girls seeking asylum and refuge within our borders.“
President Mary Robinson
Participants included: MEPs Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA, Spain), Barbara Matera (EPP, Italy), Maria Noichl (S&D, Germany), Daniela Aiuto (EFDD, Italy), Catherine Bearder (ALDE, UK), Mary Honeyball, (S&D, UK) and Malin Bjork (GUE/NGL, Sweden) as well as members of the national parliaments such as Gisela Wurm (Austria), Anna Vikström (Sweden) and Petra Stienen (the Netherlands), amongst others.
More information on the day can be found here.