Women in Creative Power (WICP)
In the past years, the number of refugees and migrants in Europe has started to decrease. However, the integration of the migrants who arrived in the EU since 2015 and the host European communities remains a common challenge for both sides. According to an article published by the European Website on Integration, migrant and refugee women face a double disadvantage in the integration process, since they face the double burden of being both women and migrants (EWSI 2018).
Moreover, it has been proven statistically that migrant and refugee women face greater economic inequalities compared to their male counterparts: bigger gender gaps in the EU-28 employment rates were observed among persons born outside of the EU, amounting to 74.3% for men and 55.3% for women (EWSI 2018).
According to the Swedish official statistics office, in 2019 there were around 2 million foreign-born people living in Sweden, amounting to approximately almost 20% of Sweden’s population (SCB: 2019). Among these, 50% are foreign-born men and 50% are foreign-born women (SCB:2019). Although from a demographic and statistical point of view there are almost the same number of men and women with foreign background in Sweden, foreign-born women’s employment and unemployment rates differ greatly compared to that of foreign-born men. This socio-economic gap appears to be even wider when taking into the picture Swedish-born people, both men and women. In 2020, the foreign-born people’s labour market participation and employment rate is 16.5% lower than that of Swedish-born people (Ekonomifakta 2020).
This report highlights the main difficulties or challenges facing foreign-born women in the Swedish labour market which include:
Linguistic barriers: lack of knowledge and fluency in the Swedish language constitutes one of the main obstacles since it is often a necessary requirement when applying for jobs.
Network access: it is quite difficult as a foreign-born woman to find contacts and form a network in Sweden, especially immediately after arrival in the host country.
Intersectional discrimination: Often foreign-born women, particularly minority women and with migrant background, tend to be marginalized and discriminated, due to their different ethnic background, gender, race, name-sounding, religion, and cultural background (Barberis & Solano 2018).
Structural constraints of the Swedish labour market: Many migrant women have difficulties in managing to combine their educational and career paths with work and family duties.
Knowledge transfer and validation of skills: (Nordregio 2018; Arbetsförmedlingen 2017; Abbasian & Bildt 2009). For the target group, it is often difficult to transfer their previous educational and professional experiences, as well as market skills, in the host country.
Legal status, citizenship, and residency in Sweden: Lengthy bureaucratic processes slow down the process of migrant women’s socio-economic integration.
Lack of coordinated and effective institutional support: In 2019, the Swedish government issued a new mandate in order to promote economic participation and employment of foreign-born women, particularly in the field of entrepreneurship (Swedish government 2018).
The report also presents data from other EU countries, namely Hungary, Luxembourg and Slovenia.