With roots stemming back to 2007 with The Vienna Declaration the Black European Women’s Council (BEWC) is set to revive itself. The first step was a face-to-face meeting with some of the board members representing Austria, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
In addition to discussing the future of the BEWC we had the honor of meeting with Minister Kyenge, Italy, thanks to our Italian board member, Dr. Susanne Mbiye.
Minister Kyenge has received global recognition for becoming the first black women in the Italian Parliament and for her position on granting citizenship to the children of immigrants born in Italy. She has also received verbal abuse from her colleagues in Italy.
Despite her hectic schedule including plenary and other meetings that day Minister Kyenge greeted each one of us with a warm handshake and parted with a kiss on the cheek. She, I can attest, is grace personified.
Participants of the 6th Meeting of the European Integration Forum: The involvement of countries of origin in the integration process were representatives from 22 European organizations, members of the European Economic & Social Committee, national contacts points of integrations, members of the European Parliament, European Commissioners and representatives of national organizations from 26 countries. During the forum the Council for Ethnic Minorities in Denmark was re-elected to sit on the European integration Forum’s Bureau and the national organization, and Caritas Europe was re-elected as the EU umbrella organization.
Opening session, chaired by Staffan Nilsson (who had to leave after giving brief remarks) and was replaced by Cristian Pirvulescu – Member of EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE; with Stefano Manservisi, Claude Moraes, and Driss El Yazami
Cristian Pirvulescu, Member of EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE:
Any immigration legislation must take care of the integration of the needs associated with circular migration, for example housing for seasonal workers. The system needs regulation. The EU must recognize that what works in Denmark or Sweden does not work in Italy. Skilled migration will always be more welcome than unskilled, yet humans are not a commodity. Unskilled migrants are needed.
Stefano Manservisi, Director General of DG Home Affairs, European Commission:
It must be determined which type of integration policy is relevant in each case, hence the importance of the involvement of countries of origin. It is a two way process with internal and external factors, for example, professional life, families, communication, transportation and friendships are just a few of the concepts that shape the new reality of migration and immigration in Europe. Good integration, including family unification, is a way to improve our society. With the decline in the European birth rate and the present trend, Europe will not have a healthy balance of work force vs. need. “We welcome immigrants”.
We need to question who is writing pre-departure policies and how can the country of departure help; how to arrange pre-departure contact; and court the members states that are creating obstacles. The focus must be on all the different actors working together.
Claude Moraes, Member of European Parliament, S&D LIBE Coordinator: There are member states that do not want to take action in immigration. They resist or dilute. The concept of integration policies in a period of austerity is especially important. The process has been slow because member states move so slowly.
Immigration is treated in the European Parliament in a piece meal way and is still seen through a western European lens. “The concept of fair treatment when it comes to season workers is paramount. I don’t think trade unions are doing enough”.
Push the commission and parliament and get majorities on the side of immigration, then monitor policies on the ground. Be vigilant and focused. Gender is not an added on concept in terms of immigration anymore, but more attention is needed outside of the human trafficking issue.
SELECT PARTICIPANT EXAMPLES of current obstacles:
1. Russia is not willing to help citizen migrate and therefore not interested in helping them repatriate. – Finnish Association of Russian-speaking Organizations
2. In some cases Visas are printed after the leaving immigrant learns the language of the destination country. However not all departure countries have such language learning opportunities. – European Trade Union Confederation
3. There is frustration with the obstacles that exist to preventing external and internal coalitions from being built. – European Trade Union Confederation
SELECT PARTICIPANT FEEDBACK
1. The validity of demographic gap needs questioning as well as answering the question of what you want to do with immigrants. – BAGFW
2. Forcing policy on member states will only make them reinforce the defensive positions. – Counseil National pour Etrangers
Plenary session – Entrepreneurship for the Diaspora and Pre-departure measures, chaired by Philippe Fargues, European University Institute; with IntEnt Foundation, QUD-IK, Learning Unlimited, and UNDP
Programs include a focus on entrepreneurial development and work with NGOs in country of origin and program in receiving country. For example educating migrants on the best way to send money to family in their home country.
QUD-UK: Programs include pre-departure measures and training. For example a project in Pakistan, “Integrate UK”, encourages women to develop their English skills before immigrating to the UK. In the Mirpur city/region of Pakistan they provide language training and raise awareness of life in the UK, in conjunction with a local university, including rights and responsibilities. The women must pass a test in order to apply for a Visa. The goal is to improve life for the spouses in the UK.
Learning Unlimited: Programs provide pre-departure measures supporting women (spouses/partners) who are going to meet their husbands in the UK: Welcome to the UK and Preparing for Life in the UK. Bilingual workshops are held in conjunction with local English teachers and the UK-Bangladesh Education Trust to provide a platform for full engagement. For example a taster workshop is given and includes family members and discusses health, education, training, employment, money, shopping, public transport, libraries, family days out, time management and the journey to the UK.
EC-UN Joint Migration & Development Initiative: Looks at the transnational work of migrants in economic, social, cultural and political terms to determine how they help their country of origin. More and more women are participating in transnational activities. Immigrants are more likely to be involved when they have legal status, receiving country passport, money to implement a project, social capital, knowledge and understanding of legislation, receiving country offers opportunities to mobilize and engage with relevant parties.
Transnational activities allow migrants to open the field of professional opportunities, increase social economic mobility, increase capabilities and develop prestige in their community. There is often investment in the country of origin and subsequently in the country of residence. Countries of origin can maintain ties with migrant, prepare potential migrants, and set up mobility frameworks with the mindset that migration is a local to local phenomenon. But there is currently a disconnect and the need to mainstream migration info development planning policies.
Rountable A – Pre-departure measures in support of integration moderated by Pindie Stephen, Sr. Migrant Training Officer, IOM Geneva with Peter Scholten, PROSINT Project, Muriel Sempoux, Wallonia Training and Employment Office, and Teresa Santos, Portuguese institute for Development Assistance
This area is drastically under researched. The subject needs more evidence to make recommendations. Must determine who pays the cost and who are the beneficiaries.
Roundtable B – Relationship between Diaspora communities and countries of origin moderated by Brenda King, EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE Member with Awil Mohamound, Founder & Director of the African Diaspora Policy Centre, and Tony Sealey, UK-Caribbean businessman
Awil Mohamound, Founder & Director of the African Diaspora Policy Centre: Trade increases between the countries of origin and the receiving countries. This creates employment opportunities.
Tony Sealey, UK-Caribbean businessman: Immigrants have the responsibility to be entrepreneurs and wealth creators. Only then can we give money and resources back to our home countries. “Money talks, bullshit walks”. A disconnect with the country of origin discourages the 3rd or more generation immigrants from investing in their country of origin. There is no need for preferential treatment for immigrants but there is a need for fairness: equal access to finance to buy homes or businesses as well as access to government tenders. There is a place for aid in civil society, health and education, but also a significant amount of money in trade with the goal of self determination.
Recommendation: Governments can support dual citizenship and multinationalism.
Roundtable C – Integration in the light of circular migration and development moderated by Kristof Tamas, DG Home Affairs, European Commission, with Pascale Charhon, European Network on Migrations and Development, and Rudi Delarue, International Labour Organisation.
The issue of circular migration is not new and governments need to develop a route from circular to long term migration.
Final remark – Marta Cygan, Director of Immigration and Asylum, DG Home Affairs: We must always be mindful of the human element, human rights. We must share ideas and information on best practices and then implement them.
During the past two years the Black European Women’s Council (BEWC) has held two strategic meetings; one in Holland and the second in Austria, toward its goal of establishing itself in the heart of the EU quarter in Brussels.
The BEWC also organized a conference in Brussels which was attended by EU politicians, leaders of organizations for women in the US and across Europe as well as diversity executives from corporate America and Europe.
Beatrice Acheleke, founder and leader of the Black European Women’s Council was honored at the 2009 World Diversity Leadership Summit this month in Washington, DC. Ms. Acheleke is a mother, executive director of AFRA, a non-profit, non governmental self-organisation and NGO of Black Women with headquarter in Vienna, Austria, and an inspiration to Black women everywhere.
Previous honorees include Vaclav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic and leader of the Czech Velvet Revolution against Communist Rule.
The World Diversity Leadership Summit conference is the world’s leading gathering of senior corporate executives, leading experts and policymakers focused on global and local diversity best practices. Conference partners included some of the largest and most respected companies and media outlets n the world.
The Black Women in Europe Blog and Social Network is proud to know Beatrice and have her as a member of our community! We salute you and congratulate you!
It pleases me to inform you that our boutique is now online, hopefully on time for your to benefit from our Christmas offers!
You can order DVDs or Books to support the activities of the Black European Women’s Council. Order on time and we shall gladly process and deliver to you on time. 🙂
Let the sun shine
Wit best greetings from Vienna!
– Executive Director
– AFRA — International Center for Black Women’s Perspectives
– Initiator Black European Women’s Council-BEWC
– Trägerin des österreichischen Bundesehrenzeichen 2008
Beatrice, the dynamic sister in Vienna who organized the 1st Black European Women’s Congress in Vienna last year that lead to the launch of the Black European Women’s Council that will launch in the European Parliament next month is requesting written submissions from sisters in Europe. Here are the details:
Thanks so much for your readiness to contribute to a written testimony of our presence in Europe from our very own perspective this time, in spite of the short deadline. Your very quick and possitive responses, fill me with pride, and the assurance, that they is the big need for us to start taking ownership of our presence and identities, contrary to what has been until now. When? if not now? Let us take the chance now. Your reactions give me the big big courage to carry on. Thank you so much.
*Here once more are guidelines for your contributions:*
*Length:* max. 6000 machine typed characters
*Topic:* any, as long as it focuses on being black in Europe or the Black 1st BEWC
*Deadline:* 14th Ausgust.
Please include your short Bio not longer than 500 words and a fotograph (seize 250 dpi/ca. 3×5 cm als jpg) you would like for the publication.
For those who have already sent in their contributions, do please just send me your short Bios and the photograph.
All questions are very welcomed
Looking forward to receiving your contributions on time
Best greetings from Vienna
Beatrice Achaleke Executive Director
AFRA — International Center for Black Women’s Perspectives
Graumanngasse 7/D/1, 1150 Wien
Tel/Fax: +43 1 9660 425
You can be sure that I will submit something! Will you?