8/03: International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is of course an opportunity to honour women, but it is also a reminder that, despite undeniable progress, we still have a long way to go to achieve a truly equal society. This is particularly true in the context of migration. Women who arrive in Belgium as asylum-seekers or for family reunification are vulnerable: isolated, often dependent on their husbands, sometimes with little knowledge of the local language and institutions, and subject to double discrimination in terms of access to employment and confinement to certain occupations.
The King Baudouin Foundation intends to mainstream gender both as a cross-cutting focal area and through various specific actions. Furthermore, as part of our 2020-2024 strategic vision, we have made gender the priority of our migration and integration programme. Our objective is twofold: firstly, to better understand the different pathways of migrant men and women, from initial reception through to building independent lives, with a particular focus on family dynamics; secondly, to support initiatives aimed at empowering these individuals to integrate successfully into their host society.
The media education project ‘Gardons l’œil ouvert’ (‘Keeping our eyes open’), run by non-profit organisation ADIF Infor-Femmes (see the story below), is a good example of an initiative that aims to empower women from an immigrant background. Participants get together to watch films, meet with media professionals, express their views and discuss associated issues. This creates a positive momentum and helps them to become responsible and active citizens.
Finally, International Women’s Day is also an opportunity to promote the temporary exhibition ‘Liberating women and changing the world’. Produced by the Archive and Research Centre for Women’s History, this travelling exhibition traces the history of the feminist movement in Belgium in the 1970s. It is on at the BELvue Museum in Brussels until 24 May (free admission).