Sylvia Serbin is a journalist, historian and author. She was born in Africa, raised in the West Indies, and lives in France. In her address to the 1st Black European Women’s Congress she presented her book, Reines d’Afrique et héroïnes de la diaspora noire. [Queens and heroines of the black diaspora].
Adrianne, I wish to do more than congratulate the Black European Women Congress. Your recommendations to the European Union are powerful and revolutionary. I am also proud of the span of the sisters’ network overseas. Although we are separated geographically, we have another powerful voice in the international arena, and that gives us more power, collectively.
In the past, when we found it impossible to break the silence of the US media, we took our stories overseas and sisters and brothers took up our cause and published our stories in the European media. When we engaged in phone-in campaigns, it was the phone calls from our European brothers and sisters that had the greatest impact.
When we finalize our ties with Africa, South and Central America, and the isles, we will have come full circle with the African Diaspora. We will no longer need white intermediaries to convey for us what we can communicate amongst ourselves.
More power to the Black European Women Congress. I look forward to the day when we will speak with one voice from around the globe.
And here’s what the African American Political Pundit said so concisely:
Go Black European Women’s Congress, I love it! Powerful work coming out of of Europe.
1. Each Black European Woman attending felt a bond with each other. We were all sisters together regardless of our African origin or European location.
2. Every woman at the Congress made a personal and/or financial committment to be in Vienna and each one made a committment to reach out to other Black European women in their respective countries to spread the word about our network.
3. Emotions ran high as discussions and debates revealed our deep desire to participate in a dialogue about what it means to be a Black Women in Europe. I wept because I was so overwhelmed at the amount of abounding love, and the intense feeling of belonging. This is something Black Women in Europe seldom feel.
4. We left the congress feeling optimistic, stonger and empowered having set our agenda at the EU level. The presence of MEP’s, national and local politicians, and our very own Brenda King validated the need for such a forum.
5. The fact that our congress was covered by the Austrian and international media is joyful as it is one step in the direction of countering negative images of Black European Women.
Vienna Declaration from the 1st Black European Women’s Congress
Declaration of the Black European Women´s Congress
Vienna, 27 – 29th September 2007
We Black European Women from 16 EU Member States, and Switzerland, gathered in Vienna from 27 – 29th September 2007 within the framework of the European Year for Equal Opportunities for All; under the initiative of AFRA – International Center for Black Women’s Perspectives (Austria) and coorganised by Tiye International, (The Netherlands) hereby announce the creation of the Black European Womens Network (BEWNET).
We, Black European Women, insist on the recognition of the crucial role played by Black Women economically, politically, culturally and socially in the European context. We are determined to implement and mainstream Black Women´s Empowerment in Europe as a core policy issue.
Our gathering here is an indication of the necessity for the EU to dialog with Black Women’s Organisations EU-wide. The European Year for Intercultural Dialog therefore presents an opportunity to initiate and strengthen partnerships and alliances. We welcome purposeful efforts to engage with the EU in the implementation and in consequence in the securing and exercising of our Rights as full citizens of the EU and EEA.
Black European Women Congress 2007 Recommendations to the EU
1. Identity and Empowerment
• Despite the legal framework, forms of multiple discrimination, including gendered racism, continue to exist. The Black European Women Congress recommends the enforcement and implementation of Article 13 to eradicate all forms of discrimination across all member states.
2. Challenges faced by Black youths
• Educational System and Civil Services must incorporate Anti-Racism training and qualification for personnel at all levels and recruit Black professionals. In addition, we recommend to set up legal guidelines for all public and corporate educational institutions to offer anti-racist material, services and curriculum.
3. Psychological conflicts affecting black communities especially Black women and children
• The Black European Women Congress recognizes mental health as a primary issue pertaining to Black communities dealing with racism. Government must provide financial and structural means to allow the establishment of autonomous institutions that provide mental health care for Black people dealing with the effects of racism.
4. Current Barriers of Black Women to the European Labour Market
• Companies and employers are required to implement Human Resources measures and tools designed to recruit Black personnel reflecting the diversity they express in their mission statements.
5. Political Participation
• Development of programs which assure, support and include appropriate political representation and participation of Black women.
Saturday, Sep 29, 2007