One of the primary goals of the Dutch civic integration policy is the emancipation of migrant women. Emancipation herein implies both the ability to make choices about one's personal life and participation in the labour market. However, the content and implementation of the programme fails to meet this goal due to a double bind: migrant women are portrayed as culturally oppressed yet addressed primarily as mothers and voluntary social workers. As such the policy focuses on the former aspects of emancipation while neglecting the later; personal choice and freedom for women are difficult to achieve without financial independence and the sharing of care work between men and women. Using feminist literature on care work and the adult worker model of citizenship we show that civic integration needs to be analysed within the Dutch structural and cultural constraints to emancipation that make combining employment and care difficult. Cultural stereotypes of migrant women's supposed oppression serve to obscure these broader Dutch obstacles to emancipation. This analysis relies on a unique combination of qualitative data consisting of civic integration material, interviews, and non-participant observation in civic integration courses. Our data reveal that within Dutch civic integration efforts to promote independence through labour market participation are subordinate to promoting women's role in (unpaid) care work. © 2014 The Author.