People have always migrated. From east to west. From south to north. Today’s globalised world has made the migration streams bigger than ever. But how is a woman’s right to asylum interpreted in the Nordic region?
Who is the refugee? Who tells her story? And why?
The Nordic welfare states would not been built up without cheap immigrant labour, according to Fakhra Salimi from The MiRA Resource Center for Refugee and Immigrant Women in Norway. This was discussed at the seminar Asylum and Immigration – the Current Situation on Friday.
“Today we continue to use cheap labour. Without the unregulated sweatshops in Asia, we would not be able to wear the cheap clothes we wear.”
When we talk about equality in the Nordic region, the rights of female immigrants are often put into a cultural framework. Inequality is often said to be caused by cultural differences, and immigrant women are thereby excluded from the main rights policy.
“Women’s struggle for equality must first concern equal rights for all, and then special indicators can be discussed such as the cultural context of certain groups – but the cultural context must not come first,” says Fakhra Salimi.
A problem today is that, for many female immigrants, their residence permit is linked to a partner. If the woman leaves the relationship, she is at risk of being deported. Today, there are also 11 million migrant workers in service professions, and most of them are women. They belong to one of the most vulnerable groups in the whole of Europe.
So what can we do about the current situation? Fakhra Salimi, Brita Thomsen, Danish European MP for the Social Democrat party, and Susanne Nour Magnusson, Department Director at the Danish Institute for Human Rights all gave their recommendations:
- Clearer focus on specific circumstances for women
- Authorities must raise particular reasons for women’s asylum and take a clear position on these issues
- A joint regulatory system in Euope that gives better protection
- Work harder to include the immigrant woman in the general battle for human rights
- Distinguish between asylum-seeking refugees and other immigrants, because they have completely different situations and opportunities
- See and act on the link between working actively in conflicts on-site and then receiving refugees from the conflict area. Today, Norway, Denmark and Sweden are more active than people think in terms of having personnel and arms in centres of conflict.
- Realise that the work force than came in the 1960s and 1970s are no longer immigrants – they are Nordic citizens with a natural affiliation to the country they live in.