Migrant Women are a source of untapped potential in the UK
By Mirela Sula, Founder of the Migrant Woman Conference
When I arrived in London four years ago, I was working for my PhD research about migrant women. I was inspired through reading a lot of scientific articles, which helped me to understand the world of migrant women in our reality. Before the time that I migrated, I was not aware about this, which as I discovered, is very challenging.
In the last three years I have had the chance to meet thousands of women in this country, migrant and British born, and interview a lot of them. Through knowing their lived experiences while doing my research, working as a trainer for Solace Women’s Aid to help them build their confidence, and interviewing them for Migrant Woman magazine, I revealed that they are a force of nature. After facing so many challenges they still stand up and seek the solutions. They don’t see themselves as victims but as survivors, and they are aware and proud of this. Migrant women have the power to leave everything behind, pick themselves up and start from scratch. I find them everywhere, working for big corporates, contributing for charities, helping communities, building their own business and making a difference for the world and their local communities.
It has been fascinating for me finding out that migrant women are great networkers. Everywhere I go, in every women’s networking event migrant women are there. “Hello, my name is…. Where are you from”. It is in this moment that you understand that in a room full women most of them are from other countries. Is this because of the need they feel to connect with the world they live in, to belong in this world and to re-create their safe zone again in the new country?
What I have learned, in the past and the present, is that the more we connect with each other, the more confident we become and never feel alone. This is a journey that has just started for the “Migrant Woman” mission, but with a clear map, to go from strength to strength, reaching out to many cultures and trying to ease the isolation and loneliness, and to create a new community of a shared vision and desire. Just thinking “We” helps “I” feel better. If you ask me “How are you going to build this community?” my answer again will be: “With love, which is the power of connection.”
It is this power that will help improve the lives of every woman in the world, especially for those who take the courage to change and evolve through going beyond their borders. Migrant women are a source of inspiration and have an entrepreneurial spirit. What I have analysed in my research so far is that their ticket to the new world in not a returned ticket, so they know that through starting a new life in the new country it is a second chance, that’s why they fight, they dream, and they dare to take risks to rebuild their lives, not only for themselves but for the next generations as well.
From most of the studies that I had read by different researchers, it was argued that many migrant women are vulnerable, weak, insecure, with low self-esteem, problems with their career, and a lot of other characteristics like these. I felt that this is a reality we are feeding with an image which was tailoring the profile of migrant women. From the depth of my heart I wanted to show a much more positive side, and a new truth based on real life and great examples of that. Migrant women are strong, capable, devoted, with many skills, and they never give up, even when faced with adversity, on their journey to search for a better life for themselves and their children.
The first issue of Migrant Woman magazine was a test drive, promoting migrant women as a source of intelligence, goodness and full of positive energy. This was to give what I believe is a much more real image of migrant women. It is the message we should convey to the world and to each woman who migrates – that they can succeed. We will choose the place we want to live, the people whom we want to surround ourselves with, and the life we want to lead. The migrant woman is in charge of her own destiny.
That’s why Migrant Woman talks was created, as a platform where women can come together, from all nationalities, religions and backgrounds and feel that they are not alone. This is what I see and feel in all the networking events that I organise with women who are in the search of their path: starting their business or trying to find their financial freedom. When they share their challenges with each other, and the lived experience of their daily steps they feel stronger, and empowered by each other.
This is a model that has given me the confidence this platform can serve as a great tool to awaken the dreams of these women again and inspire them to not let their desires go, but to fight for it, to have faith and persistence to achieve what they want in life, despite their circumstances. And this is what I call a contribution for the world. These women have a great source of power that that society can benefit, can use it for the social good and see it as an investment, as a gift to the world.
However, moving into another country, being in a new world, it does not mean that all we need to do is to overcome the challenges. We need to integrate and settle into the new culture and for this we need to be ready to let go of some crucial part of our previous life. We need to accept the separation from the past, which includes places, memories and people. We have to let it go… The fact that some habits have been part of our life for a long time does not mean that we should stick with it. We need to learn how to adjust with new circumstances in a new culture and mind-set. That’s why we need to come together, to discuss issues that are interfering in our growth and bring solutions.
I think that migrant women experience a unique growth while going through this process and develop great skills to integrate in the new world. They learn how to separate and attach at different stages of their life and this makes them be strong and resilient.
For more information, visit www.migrantwomantalks.com