August was international Women’s Month, which is a time to delve into a deeper understanding of women’s issues, and intensify efforts to promote gender equality. This newsletter also comes at a time that the Syrian refugee crisis is in the spotlight, drawing attention to the insufficiency of the global system to look after refugees. The pressure has been stepped up to change policies, to recognise that refugees are our fellow human beings, and to allow them safe passage to a better life. We, like many of our readers, are active in the promotion of inclusive societies in the areas we work, and we hope that this crisis can be an opportunity to inspire worldwide solidarity and support for a global move towards better policies for refugees.
This issue features news of the activities that the ASC was involved in to promote women’s empowerment, as well as articles on the development of a new Green Paper on International Migration by the South African ministry of Home Affairs, highlights from the SADC People’s Summit in Botswana and the challenges and opportunities for multilateral interventions in conflict. The engagements and debates over the month of August opened opportunities to examine assumptions in relation to expectations and principles that underpin solidarity, and how we can develop common understanding and map out strategies for the management of these relationships.
Women’s month activities
Women all over the world, time and again, are not given opportunities to voice out their opinions nor to occupy positions of influence. The month of August opened up spaces to take stock of the achievements and challenges that women are facing in their endeavour to achieve gender parity. Furthermore, the ASC takes an intersectional approach women’s issues, recognising how gender also interacts with other identities, for example, being a Muslim, Somali, refugee woman, whilst also recognising the power of solidarity in tackling shared challenges. The ASC and SASOWNET organised a “street storming” campaign in an area of Johannesburg with many refugee and migrant women, to connect with the community and find out what the particular challenges are for migrant women. This was followed up by an event where women of different races, ethnic and cultural identities were invited to share knowledge, ideas, experiences and a way forward for them as women, in terms of the roles they play in the society and how they can empower each other as sisters so they can pass their knowledge to the next generation which will be the future of the nation.
The next generation
The youth are the future. What they know today and what they are being taught is what they will pass to future generations; it is a cycle that if mistakes are not fixed they will continue to affect the nation forever, which is why it is important for the youth to start engaging themselves in issues that are of concern to the future of our world. The Ministry of Home Affairs in South Africa took an opportunity and invited the youth to participate and engage in a dialogue on international migration issues, to enhance their knowledge about the importance of international migration globally. Important contributions made were that South African youth must make an effort to connect with the migrants and refugees because they do not just come to reside in South Africa but they also bring skills and a lot can be learnt from them; the relationships can be reciprocal which can benefit the country positively. The youth has a critical role to play in the development of the country, especially economically because we live in a world where technology has taken over, and young women and men are highly knowledgeable of technology, which positions them well to be involved in decision making and in future plans for the country. These are the reasons underpinning the existence of youth policy 2020. While this meeting was focused on the South African youth, the principle of engaging the youth, who will determine the future of this world, is universally applicable.
Regional bodies and multilateral organisations
The SADC communities held a Peoples Summit which was intended to draft the communiqué which will include the concerns and needs of the SADC communities. ASC participated at the event, raising awareness that we are one nation dived by borders, therefore the communiqué must also raise this concern of movement without borders. ASC also attended a SALO dialogue. Discussions were centred on sorting out the situation in Southern African countries, in particular the fact that peace needs to be sustained in African countries and multilateral organisations such as the UN are playing a major role in assisting these countries.