Discrimination against migrant women takes different forms depending on their migration experiences and conditions, namely: it is different when women migrate in search of work, or to join family members, or when they are daughters of immigrant families. Besides, some of the women who emigrate in search of work are highly educated, some arrive with a good professional luggage, while some others lack basics needed for a positive social and economic integration in emigration.
Nonetheless, these preconditions are often neglected in the Italian context, and exposed to simplifications, generalisations and ensuing stereotypes. As a result, the profile of migrant woman is repeatedly built on stereotyped sexist, racist and xenophobic patterns, according to which:
- a migrant woman is not educated
- a migrant woman is (basically) able to pursue a care work
- a migrant woman is (potentially) a prostitute.
Crises and politics. Another relevant aspect is that Italy has been undergoing a serious economic and social crisis since some 10 to 15 years now, with particular impact on lowering both labour and salaries, accompanied by increasing unemployment and destitution. Concurrently, sections of the Italian population have been easily overwhelmed by certain feelings and opinions, fortified by a growing anti-immigration speech by certain political forces, which has been further reflected in immigration laws and policies: as a final result, the hostility towards migrants is at increase in Italy. This is to say that politics actually do not help the situation, at least not sufficiently.
Perceptions and opinions. As already pointed out in previous Modules, both legal and political agendas do not help the phenomenon to break away from a stereotyped imagery: in Italy, immigration has been primarily and increasingly approached in terms of labour and public safety since years; in public opinion, this approach, being further reinforced by the ongoing economic and social crisis, takes shape of perceptions and opinions identifying migrants in terms of labour and security, fear and emergency.
In addition to these stereotypes involving both migrant men and women, the latter have to cope with additional stereotypes in working settings which are based on an association between migrant women and care workers: to boot, the context of domestic work proves to be poorly regulated and supported in terms of social rights and economic benefits.
The following are some major recommendations that should be considered and used in social services aimed at protecting migrant women from xenophobia and racism:
- stop approaching immigration and immigrants in terms of labour, security and emergency
- invest more in the fight against stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination towards immigrants, especially towards certain communities and migrant women
- provide more systematic legal assistance to migrant women in order to support them in safeguarding their basic rights and fight against discrimination.
“From Nigeria to Italy and Beyond” https://viw.pixel-online.org/case_view.php?id=MjE=: this story shows how, after some difficult experiences including episodes of discrimination, this woman native to Nigeria has managed to find a job and conclude her university studies.
“Personal Success means having Concrete Expectations” https://viw.pixel-online.org/case_view.php?id=Nzg=: the protagonist in this story highlights gender and cultural stereotypes she had to face as a woman, migrant and worker in caregiving professions.
Corossacz V. R., 2000. La cultura delle differenze: riflessioni su razzismo e sessismo, Roma.
These online reflections address the issue of racism and sexism, and presents some possible solutions for services to be offered to migrant women in Italy.
This web site of the Association Nosotras in Florence is dedicated to empowerment, gender-based violence, anti-discrimination, and related training projects, and to the strategies that could be used to fight against sexism and racism towards migrant women.