EUROPEAN SOCIAL FUND

ESF as a tool to improve gender equality

ESF as a tool to improve gender equality

24/05/2019
Gender gaps are one of the most pressing challenges in labour markets across the EU, especially in the case of migrant women. One ESF project, which the ESF Transnational Platform Thematic Network (TN) on Migrants visited in April, has developed a particularly interesting and innovative approach to integrating women in the workforce. Nicolas Oliveri reports.
 
The European Commission recently published its 2019 Report on equality between women and men in the EU. It shows that while there has been progress in terms of gender equality across Member States, gender gaps remain one of the most pressing challenges in the labour market. Women are substantially less likely to be employed than men and when they do work, they often earn less.
 
The situation gets significantly worse when it comes to migrant women who face the double penalty of being both female and from a migrant background. Consequently, they tend to fare far worse than both migrant men and native-born women. In Germany or Belgium, for example, the difference in employment rates between native and non-EU born women is more than 35 percentage points.
 
During its study visit to Madrid, the TN Migrants discussed the importance of projects targeting migrant women and visited the regional coordination centre of the ESF-funded Adelante programme in Ciudad Real. Participants were most impressed by its holistic and integrated approach.
 
Adelante- a one-stop shop for migrant women
 
ESF-funded Adelante is run by the CEPAIM Foundation and aims to improve the labour market integration of vulnerable women, including migrant women, from different Spanish regions.
While in Spain projects working with migrants focus, in general, on psychological assistance, Adelante offers a more holistic approach to integration based on three main pillars:
  • activation: developing individual work plans for women based on an analysis of their employability alongside psychological support
  • training and insertion in the labour market: this includes a special focus on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and green jobs, as well as validation of skills, traineeships and a personalised follow-up
  • sensitisation and awareness-raising: to make companies and other organisations more aware of the need to share responsibilities for care, encouraging men to play an active role in the fight for gender equality, and raising awareness to prevent gender-based violence.
Adelante’s success is a result of this integrated approach. It merges psychological assistance with practical training, work-placements and awareness-raising about gender equality, discrimination and work-life balance. In the region of Castille-La Mancha for example, over 270 women have taken part in the programme in the past two years, 116 participated in vocational training activities and 32 companies offered traineeships and work placements.
 
During the study visit, the members of the Migrants TN had the opportunity to meet and discuss the project with some of the beneficiaries. They heard how these women who fled their countries for different reasons soon felt part of the community thanks to the innovative components of the Adelante programme. The combination of individual work plans, coaching and regular contact on the one hand, and psychological assistance to overcome trauma, and help with assimilation on the other, really made a difference to them.
 
As Carmen Ramirez Banegas a 55-year-old Bolivian migrant said: “Adelante helped me to improve my skills and apply for jobs, but most importantly it empowered me to believe in myself and apply my experience in fields I would have never imagined”.