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FRANCE: Governors send French white women to populate the colonies


FRANCE: "Casquette girls", "Pelican girls", and correction girls


SPAIN: Peasant women and girls from northern Spain to Río de la Plata through royalist project


FRANCE: The King's daughters


ICELAND: Royal decree on merchants' residency brings influx of female relatives

Women's Migration Timeline

Mid-8th century BC

ITALY: Abduction of the Sabine women

1545-18th century

PORTUGAL: The Órfãs do Rei (The King’s Orphans or The Queen’s Orphans)


ENGLAND: "Tobacco brides"

  • At the foundation of Rome, Romulus needed to ensure the growth of the city's population with the introduction of women. So, the Romans abducted 30 women from the neighboring people, the Sabines, on the night of Neptune Equester.
  • This is an early case of constrained women's migration.

  • The Órfãs do Rei (The King’s Orphans or The Queen’s Orphans) were Portuguese girls sent to the Portuguese Empire to marry colonial settlers.
  • They mostly departed from Lisbon after 1545 and up until the 18th century.
  • This phenomenon spanned all social classes as the selected girls had to be white and of good birth, i.e. noble girls were sent to marry Portuguese settlers as well as girls from orphanages who were educated for that purpose. They were taken care of before departure and first received by the King who gave them a generous dowry or colonial land to ensure their marriage. They were mainly sent to Goa (India), Malacca (Malaysia), or Brazil to consolidate colonization.
  • Most girls were under 17, although the age limit was 12-30 years old. Queen Catarina de Austria is said to have sent large contingents of girls to the colonies.

  • In 1619, 90 young single women from England went to Jamestown, Virginia, and were bought by the colony's men for 150 pounds of tobacco each, which led them to be called the “Tobacco brides”.
  • The tobacco paid for the cost of their passage to America to the shipping company. The Virginia Company brought 144 tobacco brides to Jamestown between 1619 and 1622.
  • For instance, Jane Dier was only 15 or 16 years old when she left, and Alice Burges was aged 28.
  • This was an early case of constrained migration.

  • About 800 orphan girls were sent to New France (today's Quebec) to create families and reproduce the French population in the colony.
  • Protected by King Louis XIV, they are referred to as the "King's daughters" ("les filles du Roy").
  • They are said to have tripled the population of today's Quebec with 4,500 births attributed to the King's daughters, although this figure is debated by historians.

  • In the 17th century, governors themselves brought settlers including a certain number of women.
  • Bertrand d'Ogeron de La Bouëre (officer, colonial administrator) sent two ships in 1667, each loaded with 50 girls from orphanages to be married in the colonies.

  • Between 1712 and 1721, 7,000 French women were sent to the colonies - especially Louisiana - to become brides for the settlers. They were called the Pelican/Casquette girls.
  • Many were sick and malnourished, and died on their way to the colonies.
  • After the Pelican/Casquette girls, women were selected from correction centers to rid the metropole of its unwanted population

  • Before 1777, Copenhagen-based merchants trading in Iceland were not permitted to bring wives and children with them or to settle permanently in Iceland.
  • A policy change in 1777 required all merchants to maintain a year-round residence in Iceland. This policy change brought an influx of women into Iceland: both wives and daughters of affluent merchant families, as well as single women hired as their domestic workers.

  • Nearly 900 peasant women and girls emigrated from northern Spain to the Río de la Plata as part of a royalist project to colonize Patagonia (Argentina and Chile).


IRELAND: Great Irish famine women migrants outnumber men


IRELAND: Earl Grey Scheme

Women's Migration Timeline


POLAND: Polish women at the University of Geneva


UK: Creation of British women's emigration societies


UK: "Bride ship"

SLOVENIA: Alexandrinian women


ITALY: Italian women's migration to the USA



NORWAY: Norwegian women's migration to North America

  • The presence of Polish female students at the University of Geneva dates back to the 1870s. Most came from the Russian partition or were daughters of exiles from the depths of Russia. Indeed, Russian universities did not allow women to study.
  • From the end of the 19th century, the number of Polish women at the University of Geneva gradually increased. As possibilities for higher education were scarce for women in Poland, the example of male students and the influence of women's emancipation movements from Western Europe encouraged Polish women to study abroad.
  • The pioneers were teachers and independent Polish women who wanted to broaden their knowledge and who challenged stereotypical social roles. They studied in Switzerland, France, Belgium, in Germany. Polish women studied medicine, exact and natural sciences, but also history and social sciences. In 1873, 104 women from the Russian Empire were registered at the University of Geneva.
  • The list of Polish students includes semester 1872-1873 by Bohumiła Ziemińska ("de Russie"), a philology student. In the years 1910-1912, the number of Polish students increased 405 (including 265 female students).
  • Young Polish women primarily chose to study medicine.

  • During Norwegian migration to North America from 1825 to 1925, women played an instrumental role in the formation and growth of Norwegian-American communities. Bergland & Lahlum (2011) highlight the multifaceted roles these women undertook, showcasing their contributions as caregivers, educators, writers, and workers in farms and factories.
  • Semmingsen (1960) reports that the period 1905-1914 was characterized by a higher proportion of emigrant Norwegian women: “ […] about one-third of all Norwegian emigrants travelled on pre-paid tickets, the proportion for emigrant women being somewhat higher than one third and the proportion for emigrant men somewhat less”.
  • SOURCES: Ingrid Semmingsen (1960) Norwegian emigration in the nineteenth century, Scandinavian Economic History Review, 8:2, 150-160, DOI: 10.1080/03585522.1960.10411427Bergland, B. A., & Lahlum, L. A. (Eds.). (2011). Norwegian American Women: Migration, Communities, and Identities. Minnesota Historical Society. Lagerquist, L. D. (2012). Norwegian American Women: Migration, Communities, and Identities. The Annals of Iowa, 71(2).

  • 4,112 girls were taken from orphanages and workhouses in Ireland to New South Wales, Australia. The idea was to solve the "servant question" (the shortage of servants) in the colonies, bring women to help the colonial population grow and rid Irish workhouses of their indigent girls.

  • As a direct result of the "Great Irish Famine", over 1.3 million people emigrated to the USA, UK, Australia, and Canada with more than 50% composed of women. More women than men left Ireland after the Great Irish Famine, particularly young single women. This was due to a lack of marriage opportunities and resistance to patriarchal Irish society.

The second half of the 19th century witnessed the creation of many British emigration societies for gentlewomen. They selected and assisted repectable women to migrate to the colonies in order to reproduce the British class system in the colonies. Here is a very short list of some remarkable female emigration societies.

  • Creation of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) by Lady Mary Jane Kinnaird and Emma Robart in 1854.
  • Creation of the Female Middle Class Emigration Society by Maria Rye in 1861.
  • Creation of the British Women's Emigration Society (1884-1919).

  • In 1863, "bride ship", the Robert Lowe, arrived in British Colombia from the UK with 32 young girls and women (12 to 19 years old).
  • 4 months before, the S.S. Tynemouth had brought about 60 educated women to British Columbia.
  • The last "bride ship", the Alpha, left Liverpool in 1870

  • The opening of the Suez canal attracted European settlers and marked the start of the migration of the 'Alexandrinian women'These women from the regions of Gorizia, Trieste and Vipavska Dolina migrated to work for rich European and Arabic families as wet nurses, nannies, etc. Migration went on for almost 100 years and ended at the time of the nationalisation of the Suez canal.

  • Over a century between 1871 and 1980, 6,462,791 Italian women emigrated to the USA as part of the Italian diaspora (Favero, Tassello, 1978, pp. 27-28)



SWEDEN: Swedish migrant women workers' migration to the US

Women's Migration Timeline


POLAND: Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth


UK: Leaton Colonial Home (UK)

UK: Swanley Horticultural College (UK)


DENMARK: Polish migration to Denmark

1892- 1929

ICELAND: The Allan Line's agency in Iceland and first wave of women's migration from Iceland


SPAIN:Women from Spain to Argentina

ITALY: Sociedade Promotora from Brazil and Italian women migrants in fazendas


  • Large-scale overseas emigration from Iceland to North America began in 1873, when the Allan Line established an agency in Iceland. Emigrants included many single, widowed and married women: at least 143 in 1873 and 197 in 1874. This was the first time in Iceland's history that large numbers of Icelandic women emigrated from the island. Over 7,200 women are known to have left Iceland for North America from 1870 to 1914.

  • Between 1880 and 1920, Swedish women migrated in high numbers to the USA, along with Finnish and Irish women. They mostly took on domestic work. They were between 15,000 and 85,000 single women migrating for employment opportunities over the period, with a peak in the 1880s.

  • Between 1882-1926, Argentina was the preferred destination for Spanish women. 1/3 of the 900.000 Spanish emigrants were single women aged between 20 and 25. They were often looking for work opportunities, especially in the urban industries and domestic service.

  • 12 Polish nuns from The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth went to Chicago on 4 July 1885. Ten years before, the congregation had been founded in Rome, Italy, by a Polish noblewoman, Frances Siedliska.
  • In 1887, they founded an academy, the Nazareth Sisters, which also created care facilities in the USA, where they took care of Polish immigrant children and families and cared for the sick.
  • From 1894, they also ran the Hospital of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Nazareth in Chicago. The congregation welcomed women from all over the world and their goal was to teach immigrants and children in Polish schools.
  • From Rome, the Congregation spread quickly throughout the world and today 1,100 sisters serve in 14 countries: Australia, Belarus, England, France, Ghana, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, and the United States.

  • Sociedade Promotora from Brazil encouraged the migration of family units from Italy into large Brazilian estates called fazendas. According to Zuleika Alvim, the migrant woman "in addition to working on the plantation together with her husband, had to take care of the 'small plot of land reserved for the immigrant settler, where a small vegetable garden and the raising of animals was kept'", a "subsidiary work" considered an integral part of the "domestic work" that yielded 37 percent of the family budget income, a value corresponding to the income after subsistence expenses for the average family employed in the fazendas. They thus represented savings that could be invested in the future of the entire family, to buy land or move to the city.

  • Opening of the Leaton Colonial Home (UK) by the British Women's Emigration Society to train British women migrants to the colonies of the British Empire

  • The "Law on the Employment of Foreign Workers in Certain Enterprises and the Supervision of the Public Sector" was signed on 21 June 1908.
  • Nicknamed the "Polish Law", it regulated the working conditions of Polish seasonal workers, among others.
  • In the parliamentary session of 1905-06, Social Democrat Peter Sabroe presented a case on the mistreatment of two Polish girls. The debate prompted the Ministry of the Interior, among others, to conduct an investigation into the circumstances. This led to the drafting of the "Polish Law", which was adopted in 1908.
  • Most of the immigrants were women. In Maribo county in 1914, only 15% of Polish immigrants were men, and after the First World War, only women were recruited for the best work.

  • Swanley Horticultural College (UK) opens its colonial branch to train women migrants to the colonies of the British Empire



TURKEY: Consequences of the Treaty of Lausanne on women's migration

Women's Migration Timeline

ARMENIA: Ottoman authorities arrested and deported hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and leaders

FINLAND: Crofter law, expulsions and women's migration



ISRAEL: Founding of "The maidens' farm"

ESTONIA: Remigration of Estonians to Soviet Russia: half women


GREECE: Migration of brides for Greek settlers in the US and Australia



BELGIUM: The "Ligue des Familles nombreuses"


HUNGARY: Expulsion of ethnic Germans: 51% women

  • Changes in Crofter law led to a series of expulsions and strikes, and consequently an increase of 165.5% from the previous year in women moving abroad.

  • In 1911 a farm dedicated to teaching agriculture was founded to teach agricultural skills to young women who migrated from Europe.

  • An estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million Armenians were sent on death marches to the Syrian Desert in 1915 and 1916. Around 100,000 to 200,000 Armenian women and children were forcibly converted to Islam and integrated into Muslim households.

  • According to the Central Bureau of State Statistics, among the 36,155 emigrants who arrived in Estonia by the end of 1922, there were 17,812 women, i.e. 49.3% of the arrivals.
  • These migrants made up 3.4% of the Estonian population, a significant part of the society.

  • In the 1920s and 1930s, Greek (and Greek Cypriot) emigrants in the US were mostly male. In search of spouses, they sought people of their own nationality to make a family with. Arranged marriages, whereby an emigrant was matched to a girl in Greece (or Cyprus), boosted women's out-migration mainly to the US (but also other countries).
  • Most left their home alone, many for the first time in their life, traveling abroad by ship, to meet their prospective spouses and marry. It was not unusual for them to carry a photograph of their future spouse, in order to recognize them. They usually met for the first time at the harbor.
  • The 2004 film Νύφες ('Brides', dir. Pantelis Voulgaris) is a fictional representation of this series of events. Starting in the 1950s, a similar wave of brides' migration ensued, from war-ravaged Greece, this time to Australia. Similar scenes took place, of prospective spouses meeting in Melbourne harbor, photos in hand to recognize each other.

  • Population exchange between Greece and Turkey, as a consequence of the Treaty of Lausanne
  • The 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey involved 435,000 woman on a total of 786,000 people.

  • The Belgian League of Large Families (Ligue des Familles nombreuses) extended social rights to families, and this affected migrant women as it guaranteed Hungarian migrant women a job and a work contract for two years, as well as the handling of all administrative formalities. Despite the economic crisis of the 1930s, the Belgian authorities showed little concern for the control of the domestic labor market, and Hungarian domestic workers faced almost no obstacle to immigration during that period. Run by three Hungarian social workers paid by the Hungarian government, the League provided a space in Brussels dedicated to the placement of domestic workers. The League also offered spaces of sociability and provided housing to some temporarily unemployed women. It also informed Belgian families about the possibility of hiring Hungarian women, thus serving as an intermediary between the women migrants and their future employers.

  • About 180,000 German-speaking Hungarian citizens were stripped of their citizenship and possessions, and expelled to the Western zones of Germany.
  • By July 1948, 35,000 others had been expelled to the Soviet occupation zone of Germany.
  • In 1945, official Hungarian figures showed 477,000 German speakers in Hungary, including German-speaking Jews, 303,000 of whom had declared German nationality. Of the German nationals, 33% were children younger than 12 or elderly people over 60; 51% were women.


ITALY: Marriage by proxy

LATVIA: women deportees

Women's Migration Timeline





LATVIA, LITHUANIA AND ESTONIA: Labour scheme called “Balt Cygnet”


ROMANIA AND GERMANY: Deportation order for women


CZECH REPUBLIC: Greek civil war

MALTA: Malta-Australia Migration Agreement


GREECE: Greek-Australian program to even the gender imbalance

GREECE: Canadian government scheme to recruit domestic workers

  • In January 1945, 70,000 ethnic German women from Romania were taken by the Red army for forced labour. In total, this concerned 120,000 people from Eastern Europe and Germany as men aged 17-45 and women 18-30 were deported to different regions of the USSR for war reparation. About 12% died there. Other deportations followed in 1949, under Stalin time, and this also concerned people in Romania, in Baragan or Basarrabia and Bucovina Germans. From the Baltic states, 70% of the deportees were women and children.

  • Approximately 12,000 Italian women married by proxy in Italy between 1945 and 1976 and then emigrated to Australia to meet, often for the first time, their husbands. Marriage by proxy, or the celebration of a union between two people in which one of the spouses is absent at the time of the ceremony and thus is symbolically substituted, was a widespread practice among Italians who emigrated to Australia more or less until the 1970s. Those who were in search of a wife in fact turned to their family in Italy for help in finding a mate for life.

  • This British government labor scheme enabled Latvian (and Lithuanian and Estonian) DP women aged between 18 and 40 years old, to leave the DP camps, travel to Britain, gain employment and receive accommodation and wages. Read more here: https://www.archiv.org.lv/latviesi_lielbritanija/?page=200&lang=en , and also here: http://barthes.enssib.fr/clio/dos/genre/com/salvatici.pdf

  • After World War II, nearly 140,000 persons from a total Maltese population of around 300,000 people left the Maltese Islands in search of a better life. Australia was the primary recipient of this post-war mass movement accounting for around 57.6% of all emigrations taking place between 1946 and 1970.
  • Of these, around 24,573 were women; 35, 828 men and 25, 285 children (Source: Attard 1997).
  • Attard, L., The Safety Valve (A History of Maltese Emigration from 1946). San Gwann, P.E.G. Ltd., 1997 p.13

  • Immigration of refugees (groups of children led by so-called mothers)
  • As a result of the Civil War in Greece (1946–1949) and the exile of thousands of children led by older women called "mothers", which took place towards the then socialist countries, some of the women and children also arrived in the Czech Republic (then part of Czechoslovakia). Among the Macedonian, Greek and Vlach refugees, for example, in 1948 and 1949, the largest number of Macedonian refugee children with "mothers" were placed in the town of Krnov. By 1950, the number of Macedonian refugees on the entire territory of that time Czechoslovakia was over 4,000.

  • In March 1949, 42,125 people (2.2% of Latvia's population) were deported from Latvia, i.e. see 16,869 men and 25,256 women. Among them were 10,987 children under the age of 16.

  • In little over a decade (1951-1963) over 10,000 Greek women became Canadian immigrants through the Canadian government scheme.The Canadian government scheme aimed to recruit women for domestic work from a list of preferred European origins.

  • Migration as part of a programme first devised in 1956 by the Australian government in association with the Government of Greece and the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM, now IOM – International Organisation for Migration) was designed essentially to even the gender imbalance created by the many single Greek males who settled in Australia during the 1950s and early 1960s.


Women's Migration Timeline


GREECE: Arrival of Filipino women domestic workers



TURKEY: Turkish women's migration to Germany


SPAIN: Female migration under Franco's dictatorship

NETHERLANDS: Deportation of wives of Italian migrant workers

CROATIA: Agreements on employment between the SFRY and Western countries


SERBIA: Liberalization of the passport regime


GREECE: The "Begona'" transported 900 single Greek women to Australia

HUNGARY: Consequences of the Warsaw Pact in 1956


  • Following the crushing of the Hungarian Uprising by the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact in 1956, 175,082 Hungarians fled abroad, of which 25% were women. Some saw this as an opportunity to leave, in a context where they were excluded from higher education due to their religious or political beliefs, whereas others were forced to leave because of the participation of their husbands in the uprising.

  • In 1957, a boat called 'Begona' took 900 single Greek women to Australia to become brides for the many Greek men who had migrated there. Known as 'The Brides of 1957', the women traveled to marry men knowing only their names and carrying a photograph.Earlier, many Greek sailors joined the 1850s gold rush in Victoria, Australia, which created a 'need' for Greek brides.

  • In the 1960s, under Franco’s dictatorship, the Spanish government signed agreements with other European countries (Germany in 1960; France, The Netherlands and Switzerland in 1961) for legal emigration from Spain. Between 1961 and 1973, migration to Germany was predominantly a male phenomenon although by 1975 women migrants accounted for 39.4% of the total. Most of the Spanish women migrants found jobs in factories.

  • The liberalization of the passport regime in Yugoslavia, enabled hundreds of thousands of Yugoslavs, including Serbians, to work abroad, usually with the intention of returning. Although the migrants were represented both in Yugoslavia and in destination states as being men, the 1971 census revealed that a third of these migrants were in fact women.

  • The Dutch policy denied the wives of "guest workers" the right to accompany their husbands, but some did so illegally.
  • The deportation of Italian workers' wives in 1965 received significant negative media attention, leading to protests.
  • This in turn led to a policy change whereby wives of workers from the EEC were entitled to remain, a right that was later extended to women from other countries.

  • Workers permission for "temporary work" abroad was facilitated because of the economic crisis and the inability to find employment in Croatia.
  • So, tens of thousands of workers, almost half of them women, went to work abroad, and many remained permanently settled in the countries where they were employed.
  • This led to the development of receiving countries, but also investment in Croatia with remittances in foreign currency and greater consumption of various goods.
  • Demographic changes in Croatia include population decrease and the phenomenon of chain migration.

  • After 1974, a wave of Filipino women migrated to the EU, stimulated by the economic crisis in their country and pushed out by the Marcos dictatorship.
  • They came to Italy, Spain, Germany, and Greece and worked mainly as domestic workers.
  • In Greece, the name 'Filiineza' (Filipino woman) became synonymous with 'domestic worker' in the 1980s. 81% of the Filipino women in Greece as of 1999, generally found employment as domestic workers. The association between Filipinas and domestic work is so strong that a Greek dictionary published in 1998 even defined "Filippineza", a term which literally means Filipina, to be "a domestic worker from the Philippines or a person who performs non-essential auxiliary tasks". In the 2001 census, there were 4,919 Filipino women in Greece (73% of total Filipino population in Greece).

  • 1973 is a milestone in Turkish women’s migration history because of family reunification policies in Germany. Turkish men’s migration was restricted while women and children migrated to join their husbands. They were legally defined as “dependants” which had a significant impact on their integration into the German labor market.
  • While there were 173 Turkish women who had a work permit in West Germany in 1960, this number increased to 159,984 in 1974.

SWITZERLAND: Manifesto of Foreign Women

Women's Migration Timeline

CYPRUS : Women Walk Home movement




BULGARIA: Greek women political refugees


CROATIA: Women's migration from Croatia to Italy


FRANCE: Maison des Femmes

NETHERLANDS: Regulation facilitating independent residence status for wives


SLOVAKIA: Slovak nannies' circular migration in Austria



HUNGARY: Women left Hungary to become caregivers

  • In 1975, the invasion of the island of Cyprus by Turkish troops caused a wave of migration of approximately 170,000 persons, half of them women and girls.
  • Some women moved to the unoccupied southern part of Cyprus and created the movement "Women walk home" to get back to their houses in the occupied part of the country.
  • Many also left Cyprus mainly to Greece, the UK, Australia, the US. By 1975, approximately 35,000 displaced people emigrated abroad to seek work and a new life.

  • In 1975, a Manifesto of Foreign Women was published. Migrant women claimed their rights as women, workers and "foreigners".
  • This manifesto is available here: Emigrazione Italiana, 28. Jg. Nr. 36 (Sept. 1975), Sozialarchiv Zürich. A part of it is visible here: http://www.lescomplices.ch/recollect/wir-fordern/

  • Following the collapse of the Greek communists in the Greek Civil War, some 7,700 former guerillas, approx. 3000 of them women, sought refuge in communist Bulgaria.
  • They were subsequently dispersed to industrial centers, where work was available. The initial population was almost wholly agrarian.
  • In Bulgaria, they acquired industrial skills. Some also accessed higher education, despite their limited education from homeland.
  • Most returned to Greece in the 1980s with enhanced skills that made a difference in their employment prospects.

  • Throughout the past four decades, hundreds of women, especially from the Croatian regions of Istria and Kvarner, which are very close to Italy, have migrated to Italy to work as caregivers to elderly people. Some of them migrated on a daily basis and some in shifts from a couple of weeks' to a couple of months' stay abroad. Many of these women worked without a work permit and were often victims of exploitation.

  • The Maison des Femmes was founded in Paris (France) to help distressed women, many of them migrants

  • Following a vigorous and controversial campaign focused on spousal abuse by Turkish immigrants, Dutch law was amended to reduce the legal dependence of immigrant women on their spouses.
  • Henceforth, the required time of residency that was necessary to obtain independent residency status was shortened to one year.
  • As Marlou Schrover has noted, while this was a victory for migrant women's rights, the campaign promoted the association between Turkish migration and the oppression of women.

  • With the fall of communism in Hungary in 1989, women's pensions were so poor as their contributions had not been properly paid that many decided to leave the country to work as caregivers abroad. This trend has continued and, for instance, more than 10.000 health care professionals had left Hungary by 2014.
  • More information available here: https://telex.hu/english/2022/09/15/the-invisible-migration;https://www.investigate-europe.eu/en/posts/hungarian-caregivers-on-the-reality-of-being-migrant-workers; https://www.deturope.eu/pdfs/det/2022/01/09.pdf )

  • Middle-aged Slovak women regularly went on two-week trips to neighboring Austria to provide care for the elderly.
  • In 2015, more than 26,500 Slovak nannies worked legally in Austria.

Women's Migration Timeline

MONTENEGRO: Regulation on the care of displaced people



ALBANIA: Recruitment and transport centre of women from Eastern Europe

RUSSIA: Women sold as commodities on the sex market


KOSOVO: Yogoslavian women become refugees


ITALY: Bossi-Fini Law and caregivers' migration to Italy


ISRAEL: Law prohibiting human trafficking impacting women migrants' exploitation



UK: Women for Refugee Women in London


GERMANY: Syrian Civil War and women refugees

  • Albanian women’s mobility reflects the recently-acquired post-communist freedom of movement, but it has also been affected by coercion and human trafficking.
  • Indeed in the 1990s, Albania was considered one of the centers of the recruitment and transport of trafficked women from Eastern Europe to Western Europe.

  • During the war and the dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Montenegro enacted a Regulation that provided refugees from Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Croatia the status of displaced persons on the territory of Montenegro. It is estimated that more than 50% of these refugees were women.

  • In 1997, as many as 175,000 young women from Russia and Eastern and Central Europe were sold as commodities on the sex market of developed countries in Europe and the Americas.

  • During the Kosovo War and humanitarian crisis in 1998/1999, NATO started bombarding FR Yugoslavia on 24 March in reaction to the ethnic cleansing that was happening on the territory of Kosovo (at that time part of Yugoslavia).
  • As a consequence, Kosovo faced a massive flow of refugees, predominantly women and children. Approximately 110,000 Kosovar refugees went to Montenegro in 1999, the majority of them women and children of Albanian nationality. The majority of Albanians returned to Kosovo after the war was over.

  • In 2002 with the Bossi-Fini Law that introduced criminal sentences on illegal migrants and legalized migrant workers, more than 60,000 women caregivers from Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, and Russia) migrated to Italy.

  • In 2006 a law was enacted prohibiting human trafficking in Israel. The law has dramatically reduced the trafficking and exploitation of migrant women in Israel.

  • 2006 marked the foundation of Women for Refugee Women in London (UK), a charity that offers legal, administrative and educational assistance to asylum seekers and refugees, and also engages in cultural projects.
  • In 2023, it opened Rainbow Sisters to assist LGBTQI+ migrants identifying as women

  • Around 1 million Syrian refugees have sought refuge in Germany since 2010, of which 78.8% are women and their accompanying children. It is indeed assumed that married Syrian men are more readily accepted into the country's immigration system than single men.
  • Early marriage for girls is also promoted as providing greater security in an insecure environment.

  • In 2002 with the Bossi-Fini Law, more than 60,000 women caregivers from Eastern Europe (Ukraina, Romania, Moldova, and Russia) migrated to Italy.

LUXEMBOURG: The Lëtzebuerg Diversity Charter


Women's Migration Timeline

UK: Brides for ISIS fighters


ISRAEL: Foundation of Kutchinate


GEORGIA: Women's migration due to economic crisis


MOLDOVA: Movement of Migrant Women



SPAIN: Opening of Ödos


UKRAINE: Martial Law and influx of women migrants

BOSNIA: No Nation Fashion Project


  • Kutchinate opens its doors in Israel to women migrants from Africa and offers arts therapy to heel from traumatic migration

  • Between 2014 and 2016, 48,359 women left the country due to the economic crisis.
  • The EU and Georgia signed an Association Agreement, which entered into force on July 1, 2016. The total number of emigrant women from Georgia between 2016 and 2021 was 372,416. They left for better jobs, education opportunities, and family reunification purposes.

  • The Lëtzebuerg Diversity Charter is offered to companies in Luxembourg for the promotion of diversity through concrete actions, and these include the development of migrant women.
  • Since 2015, the Committee for the Diversity Charter Lëtzebuerg has been organizing the Diversity Day Lëtzebuerg in collaboration with the "Office luxembourgeois de l'accueil et de l'intégration" (OLAI), now "Office national de l'accueil" (ONA). This event aims to bring together companies, public organizations, and associations around the promotion of diversity and anti-discrimination, which eases the integration of migrant women in the Luxembourg society.

  • Some 5,000 women left their home countries in the West (including Western European countries and the US) following the Women of the Islamic State, i.e. Manifesto and Case Study released in 2015 by the women-dominated Al-Khansaa brigade, a branch of the ISIS Islamic police. It invited women to join ISIS and build the ideal Islamic state in the parts of Iraq controlled by ISIS.
  • The most famous examples were three underaged girls from London, UK, who traveled via Turkey to Syria and Iraq. This group included Shamima Begum, a confirmed survivor, following the collapse of ISIS.

  • Over 60 Moldovan migrant women who have returned to Moldova created the Movement of Migrant Women aimed at changing the law on migrant pension rights. Their movement is hosted on the United Nations Moldova webpage. Nicoleta Apostol is the president of the movement, which coordinates the national legislation with the European one; instructs migrant women on their rights; and collaborates with other organisations of female migrants.

  • 2018 marked the opening of Ödos for women and children in Cordoba (Spain): the reception center has assisted 580 women and children since its opening

  • In 2021, IOM Bosnia launched its No Nation Fashion project to empower women migrants through fashion design

  • .The invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces led to the implementation of martial law on 24 February 2022, which forbid men aged 18-60 to leave the country. As a consequence, millions of women and children migrated cross-border and were assisted outside of Ukraine. The invasion of Ukraine and subsequent martial law initiated a gendered pattern of migration by restricting the emigration to women, children and men over 60 years old.