5-6 JUNE 2018 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

Women on The Move: Stories of Resilience and Reintegration

Building on resilience and empowering women returnees: how reintegration can benefit all.

Lab debate
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
16:15 to 17:30

This lab will start with the stories of two ladies, who after returning home from Libya managed to process their migration journey and make a successful fresh start back home. The discussion will be sparked by IOM and ITC representatives and Mariam Yassin from the government of Somalia to debate about the challenges and opportunities of return and reintegration for girls and women from a social and economic prospective. The accent will be put on the resilience shown by migrant women as agent of their own life, who can rebuild their lives and bring positive contributions to the communities they live in. This lab will also approach the business opportunities brought by women returnees while highlighting the need for more in-depth knowledge on gender specific reintegration approaches.

Key points

  • Women returnees from irregular migration should be seen as an asset for their home countries because their experiences have made them resourceful.
  • Reintegration strategies should be designed to help them re-establish themselves in their communities, often in the face of cultural and social resistance.
  • With the right help and environment, these women can create jobs and contribute to local economic development.
  • Training should be offered in sectors that people find attractive and where there are genuine opportunities in the private sector.


Women who voluntarily return to their home countries following irregular migration need support with their reintegration. While women are a minority among irregular migrants, only accounting for 15 % of the total, they are especially vulnerable to sexual violence and abuse on their journeys. They often face difficulties being accepted back into their local communities because of social and cultural assumptions about their experiences.

The EU and the United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM) runs programmes offering migrants who have ended up in detention centres in countries such as Libya the opportunity to return to their home countries. 

Those people who return voluntarily are offered immediate assistance by specialist teams as soon as they arrive back. This includes medical and financial aid. The approach is tailored to women's specific needs with experts on hand. The EU and the IOM have helped around 30,000 people who have decided to return voluntar


There was a surge in irregular migration from the Gambia when the mobile phone market there was liberalised and people in remote villages were able to contact friends and relatives who had made it to Europe.

Organised by


Didier Versé
Head of Unit
European Commission - DG for International Cooperation and Development (DEVCO)
Fatou Mbenga Jallow
Project Coordinator & Senior Technical Adviser
International Trade Centre (ITC)
Mariam Yassin Hagi Yussuf
Special Envoy for Migrants and Children's Rights
Government of Somalia
Guglielmo Schinina
Head, Mental Health, Psychosocial Response and Intercultural Communication, DMM/MHD
Idrissa Sompare
Programme Manager, EU-IOM Joint Initiative on Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Guinea