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Through the Eyes of Migrants: African Women from France

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PART OF THE SERIES: THROUGH THE EYES OF MIGRANTS - AFRICAN WOMEN FROM FRANCE The lack of decent work & aspirations to lead a decent life are 2 of the main factors influencing international migration. In 2010, women represented about 50% of the migrant population worldwide. Their names are: Damarys, Ini, Monique-Veronique, Yoto. They come from Africa & migrated to France. Gathered together for the International Women's Day, they discuss the links between development issues in Africa, the search of decent work & their migration to Europe. Today gives women protesters the opportunity to express themselves even though they tend to do it daily. People only see us demonstrating on the 8th of March, but we work everyday, calling for income equality or denouncing <PARIS, France - 8/3/2012, International Women's Day> the lack of opportunities for women... [Damarys Maa-Marchand, President of the Women Federation IFAFE] "...for all working women, documented or not!" ARCUEIL, France - at the federation's headquarter [Damarys Maa-Marchand] "Decent work" seems like a difficult goal to reach for some women who can't find a job despite their education level. It shows there is a real problem. <BAGNEUX, France - at Damary's home> And when one can't find what she needs, she must go & look for it herself. This is not easy for some women... because they have no choice but leaving their children & families behind them to get a job here; [Damarys comes from Cameroun] & not necessarily a decent one. Here, migrants get the small & difficult jobs. Who looks after our elderlies here?The African women. They care for them with love, just like we do in Africa. <ARCUEIL, France - a french course at the IFAFE headquarters> Learning of the languages: a fundamental step towards integration into the host country. <Marie Daffon, president of the Kanal St. Martin Association> So what do you have here? "Your" shoelaces are undone... "Your"... There you go, yes. So how do you write that? Why is this sentence not correct? Write a "C" here... & put a dot at the end. <ARCUEIL, France - International Women's Day> Personally I am convinced that as a human being, we have huge abilities. [Ini Nguidjoe, AFFADIS Association] Our abilities, wealth & intelligence are tremendous Because of the socio-economic context prevailing over in Africa, they can't get a job that matches their education or the degrees they got. Europe, especially France, has often been represented as an Eldorado across francophone countries in Africa, they are convinced that when they will arrive in France, taking into considerations all the advantages linked to Human Rights... they will have better chances & find opportunities to get the job they studied for, to put their skills into practice... We cannot do it. If men fight against it we must fight for it, so that we can go forward. Women must evolve. Leading women should inspire the other women, so that we reach our goals. [Monique Veronique Maah, general secretary, IFAFE] We have much to do. "Solidarity"... In their home-countries, educated women can find a job, more or less decent, & not always matching their education level, skills or degrees. Many women are over-trained, over-graded; so the job they have isn't what they expected. And often, when they are emancipated, they see how things are elsewhere, so they want to go look for something better, a decent job, a better pay, a job that will light up their life above all. When we arrive here however, in the host-country, we are disappointed. Because your expectations aren't always met. And we encounter, at least in France since I know a bit about it, we encounter discrimination. It exists, unless you are well connected. If someone can pull strings for you it's good, but if not, you have no choice but accepting any kind of job... since the wages & payments are not the same, we get used to it. A woman who studied the Law can end up working in elderly care when she arrives here. I think that we, women, can change the world, despite the difficulties we are facing. [Yoto Dia, IFAFE Arcueil's committee] These women are getting involved to improve their entourage's life conditions. The role of the women within the family, communities or development no longer has to be proven. We play an essential role when it comes to improving the life conditions of the poorest communities. I can even say that women change Europe everyday. I thank you all. <PARIS, France - 15th Arrondissement> I have to check... - Wait. Wait... I've got his business card... <Yoto Dia, IFAFE> I was an 18 years old student. I was working everyday in order to pay my school fees. It was hard. Therefore I took evening courses... ...for 4 years, so I could afford to carry on living without the help of my family, I did not want their support. So, there is decent work here & I am proud of what I achieved. I heard testimonies from a few young senegalese kids, some had grades they couldn't find any job, they were desperate... And when I ask them: "Why would you like to come to Europe?", their answer was: "We would love to stay here, but there is not work". ...they actually used a senegalese expression, I know a bit about senegalese speaking, they said: "Bakr fakr" or "Bakr sakr", Which means: "Live or die", "I'm going, whether I live or die". So you understand how desperate these kids are... I don't think that people would migrate if they could find decent work in their home country. <A well, built as part of a partnership with IFAFE> Decent work, meaning: a job & a social welfare system. Or the possibility to join a trade union. The good thing in Europe when you really want to make it is that you can really find decent work. Which isn't the case in Africa... You must be confident & well integrated into the host country before you can give support to your people. Or you need to go back to your home country in order to compare the european country you live in with your home country. I think that work needs to be done here & that we, the migrants, must be very responsible so that later, we will make things move forward back home... I did not create the association to stay here, I created it so that we can make our situation visible "all together", here, what's good but also what's wrong about it; to encourage new solutions, to give support here & there. Because we never really left the African continent... we are here, but we became attached to all these things we left there behind us... With the testimonies of: Ini Nguidjoe Monique Veronique Maah Yoto Dia Damarys Maa-Marchand Everyone has the right to have decent work & lead a decent life. We are calling on the EU to full-fill their commitment to poverty eradication & to respect the rights of migrant workers. Fulfilling these commitments will allow people from developing countries to have access to a decent life, both in Europe & in their home countries. Read more about our work on:, With the financial support of the EC.

Video Details

Duration: 10 minutes and 53 seconds
Country: France
Language: English
Producer: Collectif Orchidees, Jean-Juc Thirion
Director: Didier Mauro
Views: 140
Posted by: tinaki on Dec 13, 2012

Film facilitated by DWMD project partner Solidarité Laique highlighting the importance of decent work, social protection and human rights for migrants. This video shows the role of unemployment and poverty as essential push factors of migration from the perspective of female african migrant representatives from France.

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