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Gender aspects of migration and asylum in the EU: An overview

Written by Rosamund Shreeves,
Graphics: Christian Dietrich,

© Jonathan Stutz / Fotolia

Against a background of huge worldwide displacement, the EU is currently facing a surge in the number of people arriving in search of international protection. One aspect of this massive movement of people that is beginning to come under the spotlight is its gender dimension. Men and women are exposed to different types of risk and vulnerability during the different stages of migration. Due to their status in society and their sex, women and girls are particularly subject to discrimination and sexual and gender-based violence – which may of themselves be grounds for flight – and have specific protection risks and needs that may be overlooked in reception procedures. In addition, failure to take due account of gender issues in asylum systems and integration measures may lead to discriminatory outcomes. Other factors, including age and sexual orientation, also affect vulnerability and needs.

A body of gender-sensitive standards and guidance on displacement and asylum has been built up at international and EU levels. However, reservations have been expressed regarding some aspects of the EU legal framework, particularly its implementation at national level. It has been concluded that variable responsiveness to gender across the EU means that women are not guaranteed consistent gender-sensitive treatment when they seek protection in Europe.

In the context of the current refugee crisis, stakeholders including the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), women’s and refugee organisations and the European Parliament have expressed strong concerns about protection gaps, and called for further action to protect women and girls.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Gender aspects of migration and asylum in the EU: An overview‘ in PDF.

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