International Women’s Day 2024: How social housing can work to support migrant and refugee women  

Friday, March 08, 2024

In coordination with many others around the world, Arhag is proud to be marking International Women’s Day today.

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International Women’s Day prompts reflection on advancing women's causes and gender equality. For organisations like Arhag, dedicated to supporting migrants and refugees, the focus is on the experiences of migrant and refugee women in the UK. Arhag knows that quality social housing is crucial in addressing their challenges, offering security, opportunities, and independence. 

The hurdles faced by migrant and refugee women persist after arriving in the UK. Many require ongoing protection from domestic abuse, lacking savings or a robust support system, complicating their integration into a new country and access to housing services. Quality social housing can alleviate these pressures, providing independence and security. Arhag’s experience demonstrates its pivotal role in empowering women and fostering community connections. 

Kassira Yacoubou, who has recently joined the board of Arhag emphasises the significance of social housing in granting migrant and refugee women vital independence and security, stressing the need for an intersectional approach. 

“Upon arrival, many migrant women lack a permanent address because they don’t have the guarantees requested by commercial or private landlords. This isolates them from supportive communities and hinders their pursuit of employment and financial stability. Suitable social housing not only offers stability but also fosters a sense of belonging and community involvement, crucial for successful and fulfilling settlement in the UK. 

The UK’s housing crisis exacerbates the scarcity of affordable, secure housing, disproportionately affecting migrant women who often wait months or years for suitable accommodation. Specialist housing associations like Arhag provide essential security for these vulnerable women. 

However, addressing housing alone is insufficient. Adequate funding for support services tailored to vulnerable women is lacking. Government commitment to building more social housing and funding inclusive support services is imperative. 

Recognising the intersectionality of migrant and refugee women’s experiences is vital. Intersectionality acknowledges the overlapping influences of race, gender, and class on individual identity and experiences. Awareness of intersectionality is crucial in combating institutionalised discrimination in the housing sector. 

Through its partnership approach with organisations like IKWRO, Arhag proactively works to support migrant women’s experiences and the challenges they face.

On International Women’s Day, acknowledging the hardships faced by migrant women underscores the importance of increased social housing commitments in the UK. Arhag reaffirms its dedication to gender equality, guided by a comprehensive understanding of intersectionality's impact and I am proud to be a part of that.”