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“Trencant Fronteres (Breaking Borders): the involvement of immigrant women in the host community”

  • Catalonia
  • Vic City Council
This experience, was submitted at 8th IOPD Award Best Practice in Citizens Participation


This project was designed with the aim of promoting social participation and sense of belonging to the neighborhood and the City of immigrant Women to become agents of integration and social change for the promotion of civic life. Specific intervention groups were women: Moroccan, Ghanaian and Punjabis, who are the majority group in the city, but with little visibility. Still, the project sought the interrelationship among women currently living in Vic to have an active role in relieving the city. We have worked directly with 513 people, almost 90% of whom are women.

The project was promoted cross between municipal units: Civic Engagement, Immigrant Reception, Women, Coexistence and Cooperation. For this mainstreaming is also materialized in the city level, a motor group format was created by all entities and institutions involved directly or indirectly with newly arrived in the city in order to plan, implement and evaluate a project together women and programming comprehensive aimed at target groups of the project.
The initial phase of the project was directed basically to strengthen the Catalan language of Moroccan women, Ghanaian and Punjabis through oral communication workshops called "We speak" understanding of language as a tool of elemental citizen participation. Knowledge and participation environment also played a prominent role in the initial phase (city equipment, Primary Care Center (Medical Office), library, University of Vic, sign Entities and Music of Vic, meetings for knitting, markets, shows entities ...).

The second phase of the project began in April with a range of workshops for all citizens had in common the interrelationship, participation, training, dialogue, collaboration and social cohesion.

The answer to the dissemination of the program caused a massive knock-on effect and a large number of women came forward to enroll in the program, especially Punjabis and Ghanaian women origin. For this reason, we selected the profile of participants: women under 40 years with children of school age and shortly be registered in the city, which have not been schooled here with motivation to participate in the project and meet people and they wanted to come voluntarily committed to participate from the beginning to the end of the program. Interviews for their interests, knowledge of Catalan, leisure preferences, knowledge of the city, social network and availability were made.

From here begins " We talk " , the main column of the project. Five heterogeneous groups were organized in different strategic areas that usually do not use these women and spread the different neighborhoods of the city , where once a week have been two-hour sessions to practice the Catalan language. The communicative approach has been the basis of these sessions by: RPGs , music, visual material , crafts , group work ... the participation of women throughout the program has been very active, participatory , with few absences, very timely , has been, for them, an activity of great responsibility . One of the most interesting aspects of this experience was that communication between them how to live the migratory phenomenon and the communication channel was in Catalan. Their evaluations were very positive , have known Catalonia, discovered as part of a neighborhood and a city , feel and create a participatory social network so far nonexistent.

In the second phase were conducted workshops in which 91 people participated: Easy DIY, patronage, horticulture, digital literacy, walk and gospel that were true relationship spaces and citizen participation.

On July 3, the closing ceremony was held, with dancing, music, and snacks prepared by the participants. At the same event award diplomas were delivered to all participating women and the opening of an exhibition of photographs of the project.

By the experience of everyone who participated in Breaking Borders we conclude that it was an innovative program, from project design to execution, as a model of social cohesion and participation of groups that are hardly visible or participation to the city.

The success factors of the project have been very different: the municipal and social mainstreaming through leadership and powerplant, the involvement of the entities in the workshops, the involvement of UVic students on guided tours, the involvement of the different spaces where workshops (pairs of older people, arts center, civic centers, Trueta Foundation ...), high participation and perseverance of the women participants, family involvement activities were conducted based activities in proposals for women, some workshops continued
autonomously, the referral of women to other projects, maintenance and consolidation of informal groups, etc..

We met all planned objectives and highlight all the positive aspects with which we end this program: have motivated women to participate expanding her circle of social relationships and have seen that there are many possibilities to continue growing as people and thus be women more autonomous and self-assured, that whoever makes these women to form, join, and relate to the society that has welcomed and substantially impact positively on their families, this is one example of many such positive and qualitatively innumerable all as rich experiences which might experience along Breaking Borders.