“European Open Space to analyze, strategize, and (re)claim rights of female Refugees and Migrants” report

During the session “European Open Space to analyze, strategize, and (re)claim rights of female Refugees and Migrants” a report was made about the ways in which the position of woman refugees and migrants can be improved. This particular report provides in-depth view of the discussion, and serves as a good starting point in contemplating strategies on how to improve the policies and practices facing female migrants and refugees, as well as to identify ways of working together among women’s rights organizations and women migrants and refugees associations. 

The session was a part of two-day capacity building event, created by a feminist network Women In Development Europe+ (WIDE+) together with the European Women’s Lobby (EWL). The event “Ending Violence against refugee women and girls: from words to action #womenvoices call for European Change” brought together close to 50 representatives from national and regional women’s rights associations, grass-roots women refugee associations and organizations working with women migrants and refugees based in 35 countries in Europe and beyond. Among many others, the session was attended by Marijana Savic, director of NGO Atina, who was also one of the creators of the aforementioned report. 

This whole session aimed to create an open space where (self-)organized refugee/migrant activists voice priority issues and concerns about women’s human rights in the process of migration, asylum seeking and integration in the host country; develop strategies for protection and advocacy of migrant and refuge women’s rights and needs; and build alliances for joint actions and future co-operation.

Marijana Savic, director of NGO Atina, urged women’s rights associations and feminist organizations “to be more actively committed to supporting female refugees and to help the other stakeholders involved with refugees and migrants to have a gender perspective and feminist approach in their work”.

On this occasion, Marijana also called on all stakeholders to join forces to improve mechanisms that exist for welcoming and hosting refugees and to create new ones, so that people fleeing wars can experience more human asylum conditions. One of the improvements needed, which is not in place everywhere, is ensuring a continuity in care services for female refugees and asylum seekers. A female refugee must be able to interact with one or more officers in an asylum process over a longer period, in order to form bonds of trust that can hugely benefit the refugee/asylum seeker. Another needed improvement is safe houses on the route through Europe and specific support for women in camps, for example in Serbia this is not well organized.

She also underscored the conclusion that women’s voices have to be included in the process of decision making around refugee processes and programs. Women’s organizations can play a role here to help stakeholders to include women’s voices and gender perspectives in their work.

The report in its entirety can be found here: