Employment condition of foreign women in Europe

The employment condition of foreign women in Europe is problematic, as shown by the main statistical indexes: in 2018 the EU-28 activity rate (20-64) for women born outside the EU (63.7%) was 20.1 percentage points lower than that recorded for men (83.8 %), female employment rate lies around 55% among non-EU-born migrants compared to 84% among non-EU male. The most critical situations, given the high level of immigration, are to be found in Italy, France and Spain. In France the employment rate of migrant women aged from 25 to 54, is 35 points below the female native population. Italy and Spain present even lower levels, around 10%, even when considering the evidence that in both Mediterranean countries, female occupation rates are well below the average EU level. In Italy there is the largest gender gaps in labour market participation among persons born outside the EU (28.4 points), in Spain were observed highest unemployment rates for migrants provenient outside the EU after Greece (21,7%).

Despite this unfavourable scenario and the inherent difficulties, self-entrepreneurship and independent work have since long, especially in the three countries selected, a solution for the effective economic integration of migrant women. In Italy, according to Unioncamere there are 145,000 entrepreneurial activities led by migrant women, mainly concentrated in the sectors of commerce and tourism, manufacturing and personal services. Chinese and Romanian women alone represent almost a third of the total, followed by Moroccans (8%) and Nigerians (5.5%) and by Albanian and Ucrainian citizens.

The record growth registered in Spain in 2018 by the self-employed (+ 50.000) was led just by the female component (38.6%) and by the migrant one. Estimates assess the number of non communitarian in self-employment at circa 60.000, a number in continuous growth since 2013. In France, migrants from non EU countries were in 2018 almost 50.000 , corresponding to 18% of the total extra EU.

Self-employment represents therefore for migrant women, a promising alternative option to access the labour market. Not only that. Self employment, as highlighted by literature2 , have the function of helping migrant women overcoming the labour and gender based segregation, and might also offer an opportunity to reconcile family, professional, and personal life3 .Migrants’ self-employment and self-entrepreneurship, represent also a development factor for the European economy as a whole: this awareness emerged recently among EU institutions4 , and among public opinion and the various social components involved5. And it is also in consideration of these evidences at EU level, that the European Commission promotes initiatives finalized to support entrepreneurs and self-employment and fostering entrepreneurship education for migrants and in particular for migrant women.

The evidence based study of the EC, demonstrated that measures addressing these difficulties holistically, by providing migrants with a combined offer of training and regulatory advice, enhanced social capital, and facilitated access to business funding and working spaces, are best suited to support migrant entrepreneurs in a cost-effective fashion and help their businesses to thrive.