Helping migrant women integrating the European labour market with the ESF

Helping migrant women integrating the European labour market with the ESF


Gender gaps are one of the most pressing challenges in labour markets across the European Union, and this is even more the case for migrant women. Indeed, they face many challenges and barriers because of being both migrants and women. Migrants’ successful integration is often said to rely on two major steps: mastering the host country’s language and entering its labour market. This is especially difficult for migrant women, who often have to take on family and childcare obligations, thus leading to worse employment outcomes in comparison with migrant men and native-born women. 

However, despite a general lack of policy focus on the integration of migrant women within Member States, as pointed out by the European Court of Auditors in its briefing paper[1], and although situations differ across Member States, more and more action plans and strategies with a focus on migrant women or gender issues are being implemented throughout Europe. For example, in Germany, guidelines for a country-wide harmonised integration modules for women were introduced for those who ‘for family or cultural reasons’ could not participate in the regular courses.

On the funding side, the European Social Fund (ESF) has been supporting projects aiming at the labour market integration of migrant women, such as the Adelante programme[2] (ES), the Mirjam project[3] (SE) and the Razkirte roke 3 project[4] (SI). Next to these initiatives, other ESF projects[5] aiming at boosting their social integration, fighting against their discrimination and improving their access to rights are also arising among Member States.

The ESF Thematic Network on Migrants thus has played an important role by being a vehicle for the exchange of good practices between regions and countries around the European Union. For example, the Network recently published two interesting papers: one on the key learnings[6] from the ESF Thematic Network on Migrants and one on a toolkit[7] to make better use of EU resources to help migrants and ethnic minorities. The Network has also organised a study visit in Madrid, in June 2019, to explore the experiences of ESF in Southern European countries, as well as in relation to migrant women, and to understand how Spain had come to prioritise migrant integration.

To learn more about the work and the publications of the ESF Thematic Network on Migrants, follow this link:


LI, Monica (2018) Integration of migrant women: A key challenge with limited policy resources. Available at: