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30 June 2017

Women as a Key to Integration

Accepting an invitation from German Member of Parliament Gabriela Heinrich, on June 26, 2017, Sybille Fezer, Managing Director at medica mondiale, travelled to Strasbourg for a hearing at the Council of Europe. The meeting served to inform members of the Equality and Non-Discrimination Committee as part of the topic “Migration from a Gender Perspective: Strengthening Women as Key Actors in Integration”. Sybille Fezer was invited as an independent expert to report on the experiences of medica mondiale in providing assistance to refugee women.

Strengthening refugee women

Since 2016 medica mondiale has been providing training in trauma-sensitivity to specialists and volunteers working with refugees in North Rhine-Westphalia. An important component in this work is the promotion of the infrastructure needed for self-help, since many of the volunteers helping refugee women and girls fled to Germany themselves. So these ‘peer experts’ have a personal familiarity with the situation the women and girls find themselves in as they seek safety. “This means they can pass on their experience and offer valuable assistance. Their involvement is an important resource for many of the new arrivals,” says Sybille Fezer.

Appeals to government

For this reason, medica mondiale is calling for political and financial support for the establishment of self-help initiatives – such as for childcare provision which is essential to make it possible for women to meet and maintain discretion during their counselling. At present the Equality and Non-Discrimination Committee is working on a report that will describe examples of best practice and formulate recommendations for action to empower women refugees. The member states of the Council of Europe then need to implement these recommendations.

The Council of Europe was founded on May 5, 1949, and is the oldest international organisation in Europe. Today the Council of Europe has 47 member states, including Germany. The Council of Europe’s task is to bring about closer cooperation between its members. Its core mission is the protection and promotion of human rights as well as of constitutionality and democracy throughout Europe.