3 JULY 2015

Migrant women face unnecessary isolation and barriers to employment that prevent them playing a full part in society. An in-depth study by charity Eaves highlights the difficulties women who settle here as wives or partners on spousal visas face.

Fawcett recognises the obstacles that often confront women but migrant women face the double jeopardy of racism and sexism. A lack of policies on both national and local level to is failing to tackle the inequity.

Difficulties to integration operate on a number of levels:

  • Language is one of the greater barriers, as migrant women do not have access to free language courses until several years after their arrival. They can find it difficult to attend courses if they need to pay for childcare. Some women can be charged alarmingly high rates for language courses.
  • A majority of the women interviewed were graduates or even post-graduates in their home country, but their qualifications are rarely recognized in the UK. “I’m a lawyer, I have seven years experience […] but because my qualifications are from Mexico they don’t trust that.” And so, many migrant women have to accept work for which they are overqualified.
  • Employers are badly informed on these women’s right to work, and tend to prefer British candidates
  • There is a lack of information available for the migrant women themselves, who therefore don’t know how to register their children for school, who to address for health insurance, or how to find work.

Fawcett Chair Belinda Phipps comments:

“Once again we have a situation of highly qualified women ending up doing unskilled work with talent and resources being wasted. Some migrant women are isolated in their homes. It may not be deliberate but the old British reserve makes people feel unwelcome,"

“Many women make overwhelming efforts to integrate but they do not get offered much of a chance.

“There is a lot of scope for improvement in the information and services national and local organisations provide.”

Eaves charity specialises in the areas of trafficking, exiting prostitution and sexual violence.

Read Settling-In Experiences of Women on Spousal Visas in the UK


Fawcett are campaigning to reduce inequalities faced by women every day.