6th "Salon Africain du Livre, de la Presse et de la Culture de Genève"

FAS Stand at the 6th "Salon Africain du Livre, de la Presse et de la Culture de Genève" Geneva Palexpo, April 22-26 2009
FAS Discussion Panel on "Female Migration", Friday 24 April 2009, from 11.30 - 12.30


 For its 2nd presence at the "Salon Africain du Livre de Genève", Geneva African Book Fair, Femmes Africa Solidarité has been invited to address a two-hour panel on "Migration au Feminin", Female Migration.


The panel discussion was run by:
Hon. Colette Samoya, Former Burundi Ambassdor to Switzerland and Founder of « Bangwe et Dialogue», working in Burundi, Rwanda and DRC on peace issues;
Ms Chantal-Nina Kouoh, Translator, passionate about African art and founder of African Inspiration;
Ms Ticky Monekosso, Journalist and Founder of Afromedianet;
and facilitated by the author Mr Aggée Célestin Lomo Myazhiom, Director of "Collection Lattitudes noires et univers des possibles chez Homnispheres".

The panel was enriched by the diversity of the panelists and presented various experiences of African Diaspora women in Switzerland. The reasons of migration are different but the difficulties in the integration and the problems faced, by the migrants in the host countries are similar and challenging. Those challenges are decisive and contribute to whether the migration has a negative or positive impact.

The female migration has the same scheme and furthermore the African women in Switzerland, as elsewhere in Europe, are commonly exposed to stereotypes, as hard working, strong, dominant and sexually promiscuous. Negative images of African women are reinforced through education, public and political discourse, literature. The increase of families headed by African women has contributed to the emergence of another image of African women as "welfare queens" and economic actors.

 Many times, racial stereotypes have destroyed the brightest futures by limiting the possibilities of African people. Racial definitions continue to guide, or more appropriately, misguide. Here, the educational system should represent the avenue to provide equity and equality to all. Education should have the moral responsibility to move beyond the limits of racial context to a social context that embraces humanity without barriers and fears. Teachers must move beyond the racial stereotypes that imprison all the migrants.

A key role is the involvement and the integration of migrant women, to introduce them into the new host society. The process of bringing people of different racial, ethnic, or cultural groups into unrestricted and equal association in a society represents an encouragement and a promotion of many cultures within a society, rather than in only a mainstream culture. In both sides of migration, host country and origin country, the governments should work to guarantee an easer involvement, to implement policies to facilitate the moving, the voting process and the social life.

Immigration, in particular women immigration, is still perceived as an unfair concurrence or a security and economic threat by the public opinion. In this negative perception of migration, professional and high quality press coverage can counterbalance and take into account migrants' provisions and contributions to the economic, social, cultural and political dynamics of our contemporary societies. In this sense media professionals have a primordial role to play towards public opinion: to stimulate and guarantee a pluralism of points of view and opinion, susceptible to ensure a real democratic debate over migration issues and their impacts.

The panel was held during the Durban Review Conference, another platform of discussion of migrants, in particular the Africa women migration in the host countries where their face violence, intolerance and racism. Mr Ngonlardje Kabra Mbaijol, the Special Advisor to the High Commissioner, speaking on behalf of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, stressed the fact that "Respect for the human rights of migrants is not only a legal obligation. It is also critical to ensure that migration is a choice and an opportunity rather than a survival strategy. Moreover, respect for the human rights of migrants is essential to improve the integration of migrants in countries of destination".

Furthermore the panel was an occasion to continue the FAS effort and interest started during the 2nd African Gender Forum in Dakar, December 2007. The Forum gathered together African women and the women of the African Diaspora to discuss the issues of Women and Migration in its socio-economic and political aspects and the positive contributions of the Diaspora to Africa's development.

Finally, a point stressed at the panel was the dialogue among African women and the Diaspora. Although African women and female migrants assume responsibility and leadership in various areas, they remain neglected in our knowledge about the African Diaspora. It is important to build a partnership to give action and visibility, to operate as agents of social and economic development for their own origin country.



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