How can migrant women lead in their communities and contribute to their new societies? This was the central theme when representatives from business, the NGO community and government gathered at the Swedish Institute to take part in a round-table discussion.

The event “Power, Participation and Protection” took place on 20 October and was co-hosted by the US embassy, The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and was held at the Swedish Institute. The discussion was opened by the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström, the Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality,  Åsa Regner and the US Ambassador Azita Raji. All three conveyed a strong message about leadership and talked about how to ensure that we can further empower women and migrants in the Swedish society, but also on the international scene.

Then followed a great panel discussion with Ola Saleh, Kvinna till Kvinna, Tina Morad, Refugees Welcome, Laras Piniji, Mitt Liv, Karl Vennberg from Stockholm School of Economics and Azita Shariati, CEO of Sodexo Sweden. The discussions were moderated by Ambassador Nicola Clase, Coordinator for Migration and refugee issues. Recurring themes throughout the discussion were:

  • How to strengthen women’s influence in situations of war and conflict?
  • How to help people with a foreign background to have better access to the Swedish labor market?
  • How to ensure that there is a more positive narrative on women and migration?

Working towards a more positive narrative

In the discussions that followed several participants pointed at the fact that too often the discussion focuses on the challenges women face in staring a new life in a new country rather than the benefits that women migrants can bring to their new countries.

Many participants were searching for a more positive narrative on women and migration. It was pointed out that networks of migrant women leaders can serve as role models for success, help one another, and further empower women and migrants in Swedish society.

The Minister for Employment and Integration Ylva Johansson gave some concluding thoughts on how to ensure that people with a foreign background can have better access to the Swedish labour market.

The event was an excellent opportunity to share experiences and contribute to the creation of a network of immigrant women leaders that can be role models for success, help one another and further empower women and migrants in Swedish society.

Text: Ambassador Nicola Clase, Coordinator for Migration and refugee issues.