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Women who have migrated to the UK, forced or of free will, are more likely then migrant men to suffer from discrimination. They are also more likely to be exposed to forced labour, sexual exploitation and other kinds of gender-based violence. They are more likely to accept hazardous work conditions and low salaries that are below the minimum wage.

Women that are forced to flee their country of origin often do so for reasons that differ from male refugees. Women are often victims of sexual violence and many times flee from oppression and persecution from society rather than the state. Often the state is unable or unwilling to protect these women. About 50 per cent of women claiming asylum in the UK have been raped and many are traumatised due to their experiences. Because women’s experiences differ from that of men, they need different treatment and many times there is a lack of awareness about this from officials.

WNC Migration and Asylum Working Group

The WNC established the  group at the end of 2005 to take forward specific issues in the field of migration and asylum. Members are drawn from a wide background and the group is currently taking forward its work programme, prioritising Citizenship & Integration, Immigration, the Asylum and Nationality Act, trafficking for forced labour and the points-based system for managed migration for the focus of the group.

Working Group Terms of Reference

The activities of the Migration and Asylum Group are to bring together expertise and knowledge on all issues of Migration and Asylum (MA) in the UK, to respond to national and regional consultations and to channel this information to Government.’


Role of attending Group members

The composition of the group is based on diversity in terms of geographical representation, knowledge of key issues, and/or representation of minority groups.  Membership is initially for a one-year period, at which point a review will be undertaken. Members are required to be a WNC Partner, signing up to the principles in the Beijing Platform for Action. Attending members will be expected to actively contribute to quarterly meetings by bringing the views of the women they represent to meetings and disseminating information from meetings to their networks. In addition to developing a strategy during this one-year period, the group may wish to respond to ad hoc issues of concern. If a member does not attend three consecutive meetings without sending apologies, it will be assumed they no longer wish to be an attending member and will be removed from the Group’s circulation list. Members will remain on the e-list.  


Role of the Chair

In addition to chairing Working Group meetings, the Chair will have final approval of meeting papers and correspondence. She will be responsible for advancing the work of the group, ensuring its consistency with the overall strategic work of the WNC. The Chair will report on Working Group activities to the WNC Board of Commissioners, endeavouring to accurately represent the views of the group.

Role of the WNC Directorate

The WNC Directorate will provide secretariat support to the Working Group including coordinating and servicing meetings, drafting and circulating meeting papers and minutes and supporting the Chair to undertake her role. In addition, the Directorate will manage an e-network to enable a wider group of WNC Partners to contribute to WNC work on migration and asylum. 

Meeting principles and values

Group meetings are forums where information is shared in an open, trusting and professional environment. In order to achieve this, it might be useful to follow some of our standard ‘ground rules’: the Chair leads the meeting; everyone is to be treated with respect; keep the best interest of the group in mind; be open-minded and willing to negotiate and deal constructively on key issues; participate in discussions and listen to and respect others’ opinions; and treat sensitive meeting discussions in a confidential manner. 

WNC Migration and Asylum Working Group Operating Conditions

  • Members must become WNC Partners and therefore adhere to WNC principles.
  • While attending meetings and forums on behalf of the WNC Migration and Asylum Working Group, members must convey only the agreed messages of the Migration and Asylum Working Group and the WNC more generally.
  • While attending meetings and forums on behalf of their own organisations or views, members must not claim to be representing the Migration and Asylum Working Group.
  • Members are required to support and advance Migration and Asylum Working Group aims and adhere to its Terms of Reference.
  • Members are expected to respond and contribute to the work of the group, both at and in between meetings.
  • Meetings will be held quarterly, attendance at which is normally open to one representative from each invited organisation or academic institution (due to space and numbers).
  • Membership is to be in discussion and agreement between the WNC Directorate and the Chair of the Working Group.

WNC Migration and Asylum E-network

The Migration and Asylum E-network is open to WNC partners, and organisations and individuals interested in learning more about migration and asylum from a gender perspective. In a regular email circulation, e-network members receive up-to-date information on gender issues in the migration and asylum arena, invitations to events and seminars, information on current government and NGO initiatives, and have opportunities to contribute to consultation exercises. If you would like to be a member of the M&A e-network, please complete the application form (Word 33 Kb) and email or post it to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

In addition, the WNC has held two roundtables to discuss the key issue. For further information please visit the Migration and Asylum Roundtable website.

Listed below is some of the activities the Migration and Asylum Group have been involved in;

Letter to Lin Homer (Word 310 Kb)

Letter to Tony McNulty (pdf 215 Kb)

Useful Links:

UK Action Plan on Tackling Human Trafficking (external link)

UK Borders Agency  (external link)

Asylum Aid (external link)

The Refugee Council (external link)

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) (external link)

Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 (external link)

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