The ASC team has been working on collecting the stories of Somali women for a publication that is intended to document the stories of Somali women living in South Africa – why they came, what they faced on the journey, what their experiences have been after reaching South Africa and what their aspirations are for the future.
The publication seeks to raise awareness about the reasons that refugees are coming into the country, to build understanding of the background that drove them here, and also to articulate the gender dynamics associated with being both a refugee and a woman. Somali women are vulnerable to marginalisation, both as refugees and as women in a culture where beliefs in male dominance are common. As such, their opinions, perspectives and stories are not given due credibility or fall on deaf ears. The Listening Voices publication is a platform for the voices of Somali women to be heard and validated.
Furthermore, it is a means to build solidarity amongst Somali women, and other refugee women, through the articulation of a shared experience of being forced to flee their homelands, often leaving loved ones behind, and trying to find their way in an unfamiliar country.
It is our hope that the sharing of these stories can be a step towards changing perceptions, encouraging refugee women to raise their voices, and influencing collective action that can bring about positive change for these women and others like them.