Gender is one of the most topical issues worldwide today and the Dutch city of Utrecht decided not to be left behind: it has set up ambitious plans to welcome and include refugees with a focus on women. The city works together with NGOs and citizens to promote activities targeted mainly at refugee and migrant women inside asylum centres. English and Dutch courses, internet and tech literacy and entrepreneurship are some of the options available for those living in the centres or for those who also got their residency permit.
The unique point in Utrecht is the integration between city services and the wider society. Jan Braat, Senior Policy Advisor on Migration, Diversity and Integration at the Municipality of Utrecht explains that “we do all activities in inclusive ways – people from the neighbourhood can join the courses and activities to meet asylum seekers and refugees on an equal basis. This is a big part of our inclusion and integration strategy.”
“Within our integration strategy, we always look for safe spaces, spaces where people can go to meet each other to do activities, take lessons – on the asylum centre area and also on neighbourhoods close by,” notes Braat.