Young Women on the Move

Leading Change for Young Women Migrants and Refugees Rights Across Europe

Policy Paper and Recommendations for the national YWCA’s


We are living in a world where nearly 20 people are forcibly displaced every minute as a result of conflict or persecution. All over the world 65.6 million people have been forced to leave their homes. However in 2016, only 189,300 refugees were resettled and in 2017 the total dropped to 75,200. Out of 78 million international migrants in all of Europe, 52.3% are women. One of the most significant changes in migration patterns in the last half century is that more women are migrating on their own than ever before. Women migrants and refugees are particularly vulnerable to human trafficking because of sexual exploitation and gender based violence. 

The European YWCA Study Session “Young Women on the Move: Leading Change for Young Women Migrants and Refugees Rights Across Europe” took place in the European Youth Centre in Budapest in cooperation with the Youth Department of the Council of Europe. During the Study Session, 40 YWCA young female leaders from 20 countries collaborated on how the whole YWCA movement can take action in this particular area. As already approved in the Collaborative Statement on the Refugee Crisis in Europe at the European YWCAs Representatives Meeting 2016 (GA) in Northern Ireland, as a worldwide movement of women and girls committed to upholding peace and human rights, we believe that the YWCA movement should stand in solidarity with those seeking refuge in our home countries and oppose the discrimination that they face. We call for cooperation between the governments of Europe and civil society organizations, and we urge our national associations and the European YWCA to take action on this issue. Together, we have developed the following five recommendations for Leading Change for Young Women Migrants and Refugees Rights Across Europe. 

 The authors 

Yvonne Schuepbach (YWCA YMCA of Switzerland), Brittany Steckel (YWCA of Ireland), Lotte Rensen (Rutgers – for sexual health & reproductive rights / Ambitieuze Meisjes, The Netherlands), Vera Syrakvash (YWCA of Belarus), Burgela Allgjata (YWCA of Albania).

Supported and cosigned by

Sonila Halili (Women In Integration), Metina Halili (YWCA of Albania), Zhenni Matshkalyan (YWCA of Armenia), Gayane Gishyan (YWCA of Armenia), Yulyana Breiva (YWCA of Belarus), Lisa Van der Schueren (YWCA of Belgium), Bushra Hanif  (Danish Women’s Society/ YWCA of Denmark), Diether Nele (YWCA of Germany), Eirini Gkergki (YWCA of Greece), Alexandra Neroutsou (YWCA of Greece), Aikaterini Martzou (YWCA of Greece), Deepa Jayadeva (The YWCA of India), Rachael Stockdale (The European Women’s Lobby),  Gemma McSherry (The Fawcett Society), Bethany Barr – YWCA of Ireland, Marina Trajkovska (Loesje Berlin and Loesje Bitola), Heba Altala (YWCA of Syria & YWCA of Poland), Melania Chart (YWCA of Poland), Emily Liddle (YWCA of Scotland), Kelly Given (YWCA of Scotland), Krisztina Szemerey (YWCA of Scotland), Rebekka Nussbaum (YWCA YMCA of Switzerland), Zelal Yekbun Kiraz (Young Life Foundation), Olga Franczak (YWCA of England),  Pauline Mukanza (The European YWCA), Tomiwa Folorunso (YWCA of Scotland).

Read our recommentations here