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Less unemployed immigrant women than men in Greece

03 November 2010 / 12:11:37  GRReporter
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Gender will be a determining factor for the development of migration in the coming years, said Apostolos Kapsalis from the Scientific Institute at the union organization of private employees GSEE during a conference on labour market and immigrant women in Greece. The facts speak for themselves - branches that imigrant men would normally find a job are hit by unemployment, while occupations where there is a need for immigrant women continue to have growing demand, said а research associate at GSEE, who refered to a study recently published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Тhis has led to a mass influx of immigrant women in the European Union оver the past two years and the consequence is that the unemployment rate among women has declined in comparison with men. Mr. Kapsalis announced data from the IOM study showing that unemployed male imigrants were 12.5% in 2008 and in 2010 the percentage jumped to 20%, while unemployed immigrant women in the EU in 2008 were 16% and 18% in 2010.

In Greece, unemployment rates for immigrants and Greeks are lower than in other countries since 2000 but these are official figures and we should have in mind that real unemployment is always higher. It should be noted that in 2009, when the labour market for the Greeks shrank, employment among immigrants increased, especially in agriculture and private households, and even in construction, that is struck by the crisis, reduction of jobs for immigrants is minimal.

For the first time the so-called second generation of immigrants enter the labour market which means that the increase in unemployment among immigrants in Greece does not necessarily mean their dismissal and it could be a consequence of energetic young people entering the labour market, said Mr. Kapsalis. He revealed yet unpublished data from the National Statistical Service of Greece according to which the 2010 increase in employment among women immigrants is due to 80% demand of housemainds. "This is bad because women are locked up with jobs that do not require special knowledge, they are underpaid and are only in certain sectors. It is a serious concern that even educated girls who were born in Greece are forced to choose between being maids or cleaners or to go to Agios Pandeleymonas," said Apostolos Kapsalis.

One of the main problems of the Greek policy for immigrants is that residence permits they receive are related to whether immigrants will be able to obtain a number of insurance stamps and each stamp equals one working day. When immigrants can not obtain the required number of insurance stamps they can not renew their documents to stay and work, which condemns them to live and work illegally. "Greece is one of the few countries that have not ever changed their policy on immigrants since the beginning of the economic crisis and during the economic crisis ... It would be a petty if the country pushed for low-paid labour to satisfy the employers and not to invest in using all this human potential ... And to ensure that the right to legal employment and insurance is a tool for development and taking out of the crisis, not for the opposite," finished Mr. Kapsalis.
It should be noted that the phenomenon of ‘female migration’ has been observed in recent years, as women migrated only as part of the family before, as wives to their husbands. While in the past decade more women leave their home countries as family heads that have taken the full responsibility to take care of the family. Some contemporary studies have been focused on the so-called transnational families whose members are living separately, using all means of communication, creating networks of friends and relatives to exchange information, products and support. "The inability of the Greek society to take care of its elderly and children leads to increase in the demand for immigrant services," noted Catherine Vasilikou from the Athens Academy of Sciences. Many women have to work and raise their children and because conditions have changed and they can not rely on grandmothers to care for the child mothers are turning to immigrant services, notes Ms. Vasilikou. And this has led to improvement in the the situation of many Greek women.

"The point is not to deal with female migration. We should talk about women who are from different social classes, have different backgrounds and different problems in their country that forced them to emigrate and this should be taken into account to socially support them and integrate them in the labour market," said Prof. Iordanis Psimenos of the Athens University Pandio. "Housemaids haven’t got many opportunities to access social services because of their working hours, their duties, their links with employers and because of the operating legal framework," said Mr. Psimenos, who gave examples of housemainds and the influence of work on their psychological state and expectations for the future and a radical change of lifestyle and habits that are sometimes disastrous. "I forgot everything I knew, I no longer think about the future," said the Ukrainian Larissa, who has been working as a housemaid for ten years now.

The problem with protecting human and labour rights of immigrants is that legal provisions are scattered and the people who deal with immigration issues in many cases are unaware of the existence of these provisions, noted lawyer Sofia Kukuli from the National Commission on Human Rights.

Tags: SocietyImmigrationWomenJobHousemaidsCleaners
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