Women on the move


Women moving on and up

Considering gender balance as a key aspect COST is committed to being open and accessible to all, with the COST Actions focusing on ensuring equal opportunities and gender-friendly career advancement.

COST Action WEMov – Women on the Move is a transdisciplinary network of European researchers looking at historical and contemporary women’s labour mobility spanning six centuries to the present day. The Action was launched two years ago and includes a very wide range of disciplines bringing together historians, social scientists, the arts, psychologists and economists amongst others.

A visible role

“Our aim is to make women’s role in migration visible,” says Action Chair Dr Marie Ruiz of the University of Picardie. “Women have largely been written out of the archives on migration. So, we are creating a timeline and repository of sources on women’s migration; this includes mapping and collating primary sources across Europe.”

Migration, even today, is often seen as a phenomenon dominated by men. However, this is not correct. For instance, in 2020 women migrants outnumbered male migrants in Europe, accounting for 51.6% of the total.

“Women were not always counted – nor included in census data,” explains Marie. “Through the Action we are revealing women as active migrants and builders of Europe with economic resources, assets and social networks which contradicts established narratives presenting women as vulnerable migrants or economic burdens.”

“Our map of landmarks already catalogues some 1,000 places across Europe that commemorate or acknowledge women’s role in migration,” states Marie.

Spreading the word

As well as building a repository of female migration sources, the Action is engaging with policy makers and reaching out to the public to highlight women’s presence in European migration history.

“We are creating walking tours that trace the path of women migrants to highlight their cultural and institutional contributions,” explains Marie. The first two walking tours are located in Prague and Bucharest, and the next two will take place in Lisbon and Luxembourg.

“Our aim is to make women’s role in migration visible”

Dr Marie Ruiz, Chair of WEMov

WEMov was also the first COST Action to launch a collection on Open Research Europe – the EU’s open access publication portal. “We have launched two book series and we are developing an article series to help this field emerge as a specific area of research,” says Marie. “One of the book projects led by WEMov members highlights unknown stories of women migrants and how they contributed to their home or host communities.”

All WEMov’s creations are on the Action’s website: virtual exhibitions are also being created and a poster exhibition is touring around Europe. The exhibition is hosted by Action members and has already been to Cyprus and Sofia, it will next be exhibited in Lisbon, and Luxembourg before reaching Dublin. Educational materials are also being developed including a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that should be available from Spring 2023.

The Action strives to be inclusive and open to all. “The field, unsurprisingly, mostly attracts women researchers, but it is an area of importance for men too,” says Marie. “We wrote gender balance – 50/50 male/female – into the network proposal and we have two dedicated women early career researchers who ensure a gender balance across all our activities in their role as gender balance advisors.”

The Action also prioritised Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITC) in terms of membership and activities: in particular organising meetings in ITC members states and opening their annual meetings with local NGOs gathered around a stakeholders’ meeting to learn from their experiences.

The Action has received high-level support from leading policymakers. Helena Dalli, the EU’s first Commissioner for Equality, produced a video message for the Action endorsing their mission and a member of her Cabinet, David Kerr, has participated in the Action’s annual meeting. WEMov has also engaged with the Council of Europe.

“All policymakers – whether at the EU or national level, rely on you as academics and researchers to provide accurate data and the in-depth perspective that we can respond to. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your work on such an important topic and, I am convinced that policymakers within the EU institutions can continue to benefit from your insight for many years to come.”

David Kerr, Cabinet of Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli

WEMov is helping to address, inform and make an impact with policymakers on gender issues,” concludes Marie.

Additional information

Read more about COST Action “CA19112 – Women on the Move (WEMov)”

Action website 

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