Young Migrant Women Living in the Republic of Ireland Barriers to Integration

Mar 1, 2013
AkiDwA is a minority ethnic led national network of migrant women established in 2001 as a not-for-profit organisation in Ireland. The organisation emerged from discussions and meetings among a group of African women, coming together to share their collective experiences of living in Ireland, and in particular, feelings of isolation and exclusion, experiences of race discrimination in employment and access to services, and issues in relation to gender based violence. The organisation brings a gender perspective to issues of migration, to inform policy and practice, and adopts an advocacy based approach. This work is centred on hearing and strengthening the voices of migrant women and addressing the barriers they face in terms of integration in all aspects of social, cultural, economic, civic and political life. AkiDwA has over 2,250 individual members from some 35 counties in Ireland and has gained recognition as a leading non-governmental organisation in Ireland reviewing key legislation, policy and practice, and proposing reforms in relation to issues faced by all migrant women.

In August 2012, AkiDwA commissioned Poorman-Skyers Research and Consulting to:
a) Undertake a pilot study on young migrant women in Ireland on barriers to integration
b) Locate the study in some of the current literature on gender and migration
c) Identify best practice models of positive integration
d) Develop a series of recommendations targeted at government and non-governmental agencies in Ireland
  • The government should be encouraged to introduce legislative reform and provide clear, fair and comprehensive immigration rules. The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill (IRP), retains broad ministerial discretion and fails to spell out clear rules. Tackling the long delays in making decisions and processing applications, inconsistent decisions and a reliance on the courts will continue to exist if the legislation is not significantly amended. Clear rules, set out in legislation, coupled with an independent appeals tribunal would help address many of these issues.
  • Children and young people have specific rights that should be protected above considerations of immigration control, and this should be central to the decisions made about them.
  • The Government should review the impact of immigration policy upon child protection and children's rights to ensure there is no tension or conflict between legislation to protect children and immigration legislation.
  • Children and vulnerable young people should be able to access legal aid for advice and representation in relation to their civil cases including their immigration claims to ensure that they have a fair chance to have their cases considered.
  • Campaign for better transparency and public scrutiny of the asylum and refugee process particularly as it affects the protection of vulnerable young migrant women.
  • A crucial concern is the damage that lack of access to appropriate third level education can have for migrant young people of school- leaving age. Not only would the integration experience of such young people be severely damaged, but the benefits, potential skills and economic contribution will be impacted.
  • Young people with an established immigration history should not be excluded by prohibitive costs and forced to pay international student fees to attend a third level institution, rather than the same fees Irish college students pay.
  • Leadership in the development of education policies that do not exclude children from a migrant background must be provided by the government.
  • A coordinated approach is required that brings all stakeholders including colleges, universities, the state and those working directly with migrants to the table with a clear vision of standardising the rules regarding third level fees.
  • Promotion of good employment practice, support services, and recognising overseas qualifications.
  • The Government should review its own employment practices to ensure that it is non-discriminatory.
  • The Government should work with AkiDwA and other campaigning organisations to develop good practice employment guidelines that challenges myths and stereotypes, and should introduce good equality monitoring practices.
  • The Government should work with education institutes and qualification recognition bodies to introduce measures to begin to recognise overseas qualifications.
  • Work strategically to influence change of policy and practice, in particular introduce a gender-specific response to the discrimination of young migrant women who are charged at the point of moving from secondary school to further and higher education.
  • Develop concrete and targeted actions to address gender specific discrimination experienced by young migrant women in hostels and the recruitment practices of public and private companies.
  • Encourage public bodies to provide tangible evidence of how their approach to mainstreaming equality across service areas, have addressed the specific needs of migrant women.
  • Work with larger campaigning bodies to demand representation on key planning and policy making forums and funding/grants programmes to ensure that issues facing migrant women are addressed.
  • Undertake research to investigate the different roles religion plays in supporting interculturalism and integration strategies.
  • Use the research process to engage religious leaders to fully explore the services they offer to young migrant women.
  • Develop a sector leadership role by bringing together organisations and networks focused on migrant women and develop a stronger co-ordinated voice of influence.
  • Identify a patron who can champion the needs of young migrant women, bringing resources and public profile to address the issues they face.
  • Develop new and efficient ways to secure new funds to address the reduced EU funding streams aimed at integration.
  • Market the skills and experiences that AkiDwA offers public sector services that are not familiar with the needs of young migrant women including how to develop culturally sensitive services, the legal rights of migrant women, developing clear referral processes, access to local support agencies and community resources for example. This should include events, training, research, policy and service reviews as well as networking opportunities.
  • Build on the findings of this research to support more detailed and large scale research on the experiences of migrant women.
  • Explore global networking linkages and opportunities to influence in Ireland and internationally.
  • Continue to maximise AkiDwA's key strengths, including protecting the rights to remain, partnership work across agencies, strategic alliances with organisations that share similar agendas on migrant and women issues, campaign and advocacy work, empowering and motivating migrant women, building capacity and encouraging migrant women to politically represent themselves and developing nuanced and culturally sensitive approaches to addressing the needs of migrant women.
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