The emancipation of female refugees
“I will not live in a country where thousands of people are living lonely lives, forgotten by the rest of us.”
- Jo Cox
“During the autumn semester of 2021, we have gotten the opportunity to start from scratch and create a like-minded team to work on a complex issue. We had many brainstorm sessions as we wanted to locally address a worldwide matter. After these sessions, all four of us found our passion in the emancipation of female refugees and off we went.”
After having analysed the challenge of empowerment, especially among female refugees, applying the Value Creators 4E-model, we did a lot of desk research to validate the matter and find out all key elements. With this knowledge in the back of our minds, we started talking to many different actors. We reached out to Saeed, Stichting Present, Buddy to Buddy, Voor Elkaar Zwolle, The Girl Movement, Flüchtlingshilfe Rheine, the municipality of Zwolle, Dr. Sjiera de Vries, and many newcomers themselves. The experience was amazing, mainly because they represented and provided us with all the major perspectives and insights of the complexity. We even got the chance to cook with some of the newcomers, which was organised by Saeed. Looking back, we can surely say that this experience, or better evening, was definitively a highlight of the Value Creators semester. By getting and spending time together, we had the wonderful chance of creating a personal connection to their stories and dreams. So, it shall be no surprise that until today, we are still in contact with some of them.
We also visited Klets & Koek multiple times, an initiative of Stichting Present Zwolle that offers language classes for refugees (as well as help for resumes, job interviews, etc.).
First, being more focused on female refugees and the labour market; after our conversations with Buddy to Buddy and Dr. Sjiera de Vries, we realised the need for all newcomers, regardless their gender, to get out of isolation, especially with the impact this issue has on a successful integration, overall. So, we therefore decided to focus on the root causes and set out to enhance the social infrastructure. The social infrastructure in this given context is defined as facilitating and strengthening the social relations of newcomers with people in their host country, ensuring that newcomers smoothly familiarise themselves with the, in our case, Dutch society.
With a lot of different ideas on the table, we needed to think of the most promising, and on top of that COVID-proof, soulution.
Stichting Present Zwolle expressed the need to digitalise Klets & Koek, as many different actors had been asking for it for years. Klets & Koek is a concept where newcomers can not only enhance their Dutch language skills (one of the most important and first steps in a successful integration), but also familiarise themselves with the Dutch culture. So, we ended up creating a clear-cut website that offers general information as well as videos on how to get to the initiative, and exercises to do at home.
On the website you can also find the Welcome Guide a previous team of Value creators has created!
In a nutshell, during the past months, we grew personally as well as professionally. Next to learning about the many refugee challenges, particularly struggles faced by female refugees, we also realised how complex and ambiguous the issue can get. Thus, instead of approaching the topic with a problem-solving mind, it might be equally, or more valuable, to turn it around and really co-create with partners on the ground. With our contribution of a plan and manual for the website, Stichting Present takes now over again and ensures that the webpage stays up to date. We are therefore hopeful that our created value will proceed long-term impact!
If you want to know more about our project work, please, don’t be afraid to contact us.
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