Women & Migration
1) About the project
Women’s values and spirituality as a key to tolerant and multicultural Europe
Everyday life of migrant & ethnic minority women in Europe
„Europe is big! Europe is economically stronger. From the grass roots, we want to do our bit to contribute to a social and just Europe. Our experience with racism and discrimination, our perspective „from the bottom“, but also our strength and spirituality are good “ingredients” for this contribution. We also have our place in the European society. We offer as well as expect something. We expect equal position, respect and equal rights. We offer activism and full participation in development of civic society.“ (An extract from the Memorandum of 70 migrant and ethnic minority women who participated in the international conference in Kostelec nad Cernymi lesy, the Czech Republic in April 2005)
Integration of foreigners, migration and its regulation in Europe have been subject matters of many discussions. While the highest EU/government stuctures aim to regulate immigration in Europe, ECG focusses on those who have already come. Our project is focused on women – refugees and asylum seekers; women who belong to the second or third generation of migrants as well as women who were born in Europe and belong to an ethnic minority. ECG aims to “let their voice be heard”. We require respect to their human rights and equal opportunities and support their involvement in public activities.
The project was carried out in the years 2004/2005. The main aim was to reflect on practical impacts of EU strategies for combating discrimination and promoting cultural diversity on migrant and ethnic minority women. The reflection was based on their experience with access to social healthcare services and education in EU. More then 120 women from 33 countries of origin/ residence who live in Europe (mostly EU) participated in this project.
- Multicultural women’s group De Sleutel/ Es Sarout, Antwerp, Belgium
- Multicultural women’s group Rosa, Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Multicultural women’s group at COM and PPU, Prague, CZ
- Berkat, Prague, CZ
International workshop: „Multicultural Society – Burden or Delight?“, Prague, Czech Republic, 28th March – 3rd April 2004
„By sharing experiences with each other and hanging out with each other, I have learnt a lot. Women can put themselves in the other's situation. Men are physically stronger. They often break more things. Women are able to heal, keep things going, adapt to new situations.“ (a participant of the workshop)
This international workshop gathered migrant and ethnic minority women as well as asylum seekers who live in the Czech Republic, Netherlands and Belgium. Thirty-five women spent three days by working on the issues such as:
- What does the term “multi-cultural society” mean for you?
- Are there same opportunities for all in our societies? What is our daily experience?
- Do “women” have a distinct position in this society?
- What do you need to be successful in this society?
- Spirituality in everyday life
- Assimilation, segregation, isolation, integration, what these words mean for us?
- What is women’s solidarity?
- Loss of traditions and seeking for a new identity.
International conference: „Women’s Values and Spirituality as a Key to Ttolerant and Multicultural Europe“, Kostelec nad Cernymi lesy, Czech Republic, 20th – 24th March 2005
„The conference totally changed my opinions and not only in my work, but also generally in my life. It clearly showed that women have different approach to well-known problems. I believe that women's values should be more broadly used in decision making process on all levels.“ (Babutsa, Georgia & Hungary)
The conference was the most important and also the largest activity in the project frame. Over 70 women participated in it. They came from Afghanistan, Angola, Belgium, Byelorussia, Chechnya, Czech Republic, Philippines, Finland, France, Georgia, Chile, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Cape Verde, Kenya, Congo, Kyrgyz tan, Hungary, Morocco, The Republic of Moldova, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Surinam, Sweden, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the countries of ex-Yugoslavia. Also Roma women from Bulgaria and the Czech Republic and Gagauz and Ukrainian women from the Republic of Moldova took part in the conference. These women were representatives of ethnic minorities, asylum seekers, refugees, foreigners, and migrants...
The aim of the project was to inform participants about their human and social rights and invite them to discuss their personal experience with their enforcement by official institutions. Practical workshops were organised in course of the event to help women in integration process. They provided a space for sharing life experiences and strategies to combat racism and discrimination. Women could also reflect on the role of spirituality in everyday life and on their position in their family and society.
"To meet, share and exchange experience is the best key for social Europe." (Ina Koeman, Belgium)
International workshop: „Ethnic Minority Women and their Contribution to Europe“, Antwerp, Belgium, October 2005
The workshop was organised by the partner organisation De Sleutel/Es Sarout as a follow up to the conference „Women’s Values and Spirituality as a Key to Tolerant and Multicultural Europe“. The main aim was to disseminate ideas and outcomes of the conference also to other women who are active in the community development and self-support activities in Belgium and Netherlands. Workshop was attended by participants from Belgium, Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
The partner organisation De Sleutel/Es Sarout also organised in Antwerp two-day internship for Czech women. They met with many women activists who protect rights of migrants in Belgium and visited some organisations.
MEMORANDUM ON MIGRANT AND ETHNIC MINORITY WOMEN
The publication represents voice of refugee and ethnic minority women living in Europe. It offers an insight into their daily life and problems they are facing because of their identity. It presents suggestions for effective coexistence of different ethnic groups living in Europe based on practical experience. It also brings up issues such as women‘s spirituality, Muslim and Roma women in Europe. In addition, it contains practical tools for activism as well as life stories of migrant women.
Publication is available in English and Dutch.
MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY - BURDEN OR DeLIGHT?
The publication reflects on the visit of migrant and ethnic minority women from Belgium and Netherlands in Prague, the Czech Republic. They spent four days in Prague along with the women living in CZ. They all participated in the workshop, which carried the same title as the publication: Multicultural society – burden or delight ?
The project has been supported by:
- The European Commission, Directorate General for Education and Culture
- Cordaid, Netherlands
- SKAN Fonds, Netherlands
- Stichting Rotterdam, Netherlands
- Haella, Netherlands
- Channel Crossings, Czech Republic
- Industrial Mission Association, Great Britain
- World Council of Churches, Switzerland