The project

Background of the project

Migrant women are one of the most disadvantaged groups in the EU in terms of labour participation and social inclusion. Despite their diversity as a group, gender and origin crisscross as disadvantage factors in their lives. Subsequently, migrant women have high unemployment rates, are among the lowest paid workers in the EU and are consistently de-skilled and pushed to casual jobs in unregulated sectors. This results in a systematic violation of their rights, an invaluable loss of talent and a high risk of poverty in the crisis economy.

FORWARD builds on a potential strong mechanism to overcome these problems, promoting the participation of migrant women in adult education, and focuses particularly on two key tools: competence-based methodologies and competence validation frameworks.

Competence-based models have proven extremely valuable for the empowerment of women. A competence approach allows for the recognition of socially discredited skills acquired in informal and non-formal contexts, such as those related to feminized tasks (care of dependents, housework), as well as their transference to work contexts and further development. FORWARD builds on this approach to address the competences developed by migrant women during migration processes, such as stress management in transnational care tasks or the ability to adapt to change which every integration process requires.

FORWARD is also based on another key mechanism for the employability and social inclusion of migrant women: systems of validation of learning acquired in formal, informal and non-formal contexts. However, in all partner countries official validation procedures of formal qualifications gained outside of the host country are inconsistent and/or ineffective, resulting in discrimination and an invaluable loss of human capital. On the other hand, existing validation procedures for competences acquired in non-formal and informal contexts are neither readily available nor effective for migrants.

FORWARD will address these needs by learning from existing good practices of competence-based learning and validation models and providing a specific pilot-tested competence portfolio and career guidance tools adapted to the experiences and needs of migrant women in the EU, and the very similar obstacles they find to participate in the labour market, despite their heterogeneity as a group.

Aims of the project


The main aim of FORWARD is to design and implement an innovative competence-based portfolio and pedagogical tools for the identification, recognition, validation and development of the competences of migrant women, as a way to improve their employability and social inclusion.


The specific objectives are:

  • To widen research in 6 EU Member States (Austria, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Romania and Spain) on the specific situation of migrant women, focusing on their competence capital, employability, experiences of competence assessment and validation, and participation in the labour market and adult education.
  • To develop, pilot test and validate (by a panel of experts) a new competence-based model (portfolio and pedagogical tools) specifically adapted to migrant women in the EU.
  • To transfer and promote the use of FORWARD products (competence portfolio and pedagogical tools) among career guidance and adult learning professionals.
  • To spread the knowledge, expertise and good practice obtained during the project at EU level and foster discussion of the usability and efficiency of competence-based methodologies and tools among professionals.

Main activities during the 2-year project

  • Research on the competences of migrant women in Austria, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Romania and Spain
  • Elaboration, pilot test and expert validation in the 6 countries of an innovative methodology to help professionals in supporting migrant women in the process of self-recognition, validation and development of their competences
  • Electronic publication of two pedagogical deliverables in 7 languages: the Forward handbook and toolbox. They will include a competence portfolio to assess the competences of migrant women, an assessment guide and learning and career guidance activities to support migrant women in the identification, transference and development of competences.
  • Training, dissemination, mainstreaming and multiplication events, such as workshops for professionals and public conferences in the 6 countries, as well as a final European conference.
  • A leaflet in 7 languages as a dissemination deliverable.