This communication has been sent to all  Femm Committee members today.

To members of FEMM Committee, European Parliament.

The European Parliament has recently launched a written declaration calling for a renewed focus on reducing homelessness through a specific EU action plan. This opportunity would ensure that the needs of vulnerable women experiencing homelessness are incorporated into EU policy.

The European Institute of Women Health (EIWH) calls on you, as a member of the FEMM committee, to sign and support this declaration.

There are many complex causes of homelessness among women and their families including but not limited to poverty, lack of income, substance abuse, mental health issues and domestic violence.

Homelessness affects women in a very different manner than it does men, giving rise to sex and gender-specific needs that have been largely ignored by policymakers.  Women often engage in coping strategies to avoid the appearance of homelessness; rather than presenting to shelters or sleep rough, they will generally sleep in parks, train stations, sofa-surf, or enter the sex trade.  Thus, women’s homelessness is a “hidden” form of homelessness, often forgotten or ignored.

Women’s homelessness and violence against women are strongly linked.  Domestic violence is a common cause of homelessness among women.  Moreover, homeless women are at increased risk of being raped; contracting a sexually transmitted disease, such as HIV/AIDS; beaten; attacked; chocked; strangled; exploited in the sex trade; and forced to join street gangs.

Poverty and homelessness also affect access to health care. Many homeless women have problems with alcohol and drug use, have undiagnosed physical conditions and/or have diagnosed mental health conditions.  The impact—both physically and psychologically— of homelessness on women is a major public health issue.

Homeless women possess very complex and sex and gender-specific needs.  To date women’s homelessness has not been given enough attention by policymakers.  There is a lack of European research on women’s  homelessness and no comparative data available.  We cannot sit by idly as such inequities persist throughout Europe.

By signing this declaration today, you are playing your part in protecting and vindicating the rights of vulnerable women who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness across the EU.  Only through concerted efforts can we reduce the burden of homelessness among women and their families throughout the EU.

No woman in Europe should be forced into a situation of homelessness or be exposed to violence. Ending homelessness is an achievable policy goal, but it requires a strong and immediate commitment from EU policymakers. Join the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council in calling for EU support to address homelessness.

Homelessness can be ended. Sign the Written Declaration today. 

and show your support for this campaign by tweeting #mygoalisahome

Kind regards,

Peggy Maguire,

Director General,

European Institute of Womens Health

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