A woman migrant with her child disembarking at Porto Empedocle in Sicily | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/MONTANA
A woman migrant with her child disembarking at Porto Empedocle in Sicily | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/MONTANA

UNICEF has released a report shedding light on the negative impacts of the pandemic on migrant women in Italy. It said discrimination already linked to gender and migration, combined with the challenges imposed by COVID-19, had increased the likelihood that migrant women in Italy will suffer violence.

The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic alongside those linked to gender-based discrimination and migration in general have increased the probability of suffering violence for women and girls who are migrants and refugees in Italy.

A UNICEF report presented on Saturday (March 5) in the Italian capital entitled "Non Ero al Sicuro in Casa Sua" ("I Wasn't Safe at His Home") sheds light on the negative impacts of the COVID on the safety and wellbeing of women and girls in Italy, Brazil, Guatemala, and Iraq.

In Italy the research was conducted jointly by the UNICEF office for Europa and Central Asia, the UNICEF research center Innocenti and the University of Washington at St. Louis.

The analysis was on the basis of research involving about 100 women refugees and migrants and 50 people working in protection and support programs in three Italian regions: the central region of Lazio, the northern region of Lombardy, and the island of Sicily in southern Italy.

Isolation and socio-economic inclusion problems amid pandemic

Social distancing increased the sense of solitude in general and this was even more pronounced for many women and girls who are refugees and migrants, for whom access to family and friendship networks was already limited, the report found.

Single mothers were reportedly hit especially hard by the pandemic due to difficulties in providing for the needs of their families and the greater responsibilities linked to caring for their children.

Socio-economic inclusion of women and girl refugees and migrants, the research showed, also suffered due to the interruption of courses, especially language ones.

Resilience showed by the women

The research nevertheless found a great deal of resilience among women and girl refugees and migrants, who lost no time in activating social support networks, chances to meet, and possibilities to take part in community life as soon as allowed to by the restrictions in place.

The research also highlighted challenges in some cases in the reception system due to staff reductions, shared lodgings, limited access to private spaces, and slowed mechanisms for specialised services.

Due to restrictions linked to COVID-19, many services reduced their services or limited them to online only, increasing access challenges for women and girl refugees and migrants that already suffer from information and linguistic barriers.

The report nonetheless showed timely adaptation abilities, with the women and girls often combining initiatives online and those in person and increasing the use of mobile units for needs that arose.

 

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