The purpose of this opinion is to supplement the work carried out by the EESC on immigration and integration, by examining specific issues relating to the position of migrant women on the labour market. Increasing the employment rate of these women is a priority for the European Union, and can only strengthen their integration in society and contribute to economic growth and social cohesion.
On a labour market which remains disadvantageous for women in general (with regard to pay, leadership positions, etc.), immigrant women face two-fold problems, both as women and as immigrants.
The EESC opinion urges the Member States and European to take positive action that takes account of immigrant women's situation, their qualifications, knowledge of the language of the host country and whether they are first- or subsequent generation immigrants.
At EU level, the EESC calls for better use to be made of the European Semester and country-specific recommendations, together with the post-2015 strategy for gender equality, in order to improve the position of migrant women on the labour market, including through support for entrepreneurship.
The EESC also calls for European instruments to be harmonised to ensure that any person residing legally on European territory has immediate access to employment and individual residence rights, irrespective of their matrimonial status.
In addition, the opinion makes a number of specific recommendations to the Member States, including:
- organising language courses that meet the specific needs of migrant women, are accessible and oriented towards finding work;
- speeding up the process of recognising qualifications and experience gained abroad to enable women to find jobs corresponding to their skills and aspirations;
- avoiding de-skilling, which represents a waste of human capital;
- considering work in some sectors (such as cleaning, caring for children and the elderly, hotels and catering and agriculture) as offering opportunities for less-qualified migrant women, provided that steps are taken to ensure that these sectors are legalised, professionalised and upgraded and that women are given training in these areas and enabled to develop their careers;
- supporting women entrepreneurs and fostering entrepreneurship education for migrant women;
- involving the social partners and civil society in policy-making and delivery;
Lastly, the EESC calls on the social partners to ensure that aspects specific to migrant women are incorporated more effectively into the European social dialogue work programme, and to facilitate the recognition of women migrants' qualifications in collective agreements.