Muslim Women Integrating Into European Society Faster Than Men

June 7, 2004

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On June 7, 2004 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "[A]n emerging group of young Muslim women...are outpacing their male counterparts in making the transition into mainstream European society, the workplace, and even political office. Their success is a hopeful sign that new generations of women may break the cycle of unemployment and poverty prevalent among Europe's migrant populations. What many find troubling is that young Muslim men are not making similar gains. 'Some firms feel that they are a progressive firm if they hire migrant women - but not the men,' says Rachida Mohout, a Moroccan-Belgian teacher in Mechelen, Belgium. 'The future is getting better for girls who further their education but for boys it is getting worse - they get fewer chances in school and in work.' The gender gap in integration begins in the family. In Belgium's Turkish and Moroccan Muslim communities, boys typically enjoy relative freedom to come and go, while girls are often restricted to the home...[Y]oung migrant women who are friendly, educated, fluent in European languages, and not overtly religious, are more easily accepted into European schools and workplaces than men. 'What makes integration more difficult is that Westerners often start with a negative attitude towards Mediterranean Muslim men, but the attitude toward women is that we pity them,' says Timmerman. In most European countries, ethnic minorities have at least double the unemployment rate of natives. As a result, many countries have started new migrant integration programs focusing on language and job skills. But the current generation of young migrant men who are are out of work receives less government attention."