[SL] Connecting the local community in Koper through thematic meetings with migrant women

Thematic meetings with migrant women, held at the Morje Intergenerational Centre in April and May 2023, strengthened intercultural dialogue, and contributed to the networking of the local community in the municipality of Koper. The article summarizes the efforts of the PITCH project, the course of the intercultural meetings and their importance for the inclusion of migrant women as active members of society, as well as upcoming activities that will serve as a proposal for an action plan for the integration of migrants in the municipality of Koper.

An international project with the acronym PITCH, aimed at strengthening local integration strategies in seven European countries, focuses on improving processes for integrating migrant women into the host society. In Slovenia, the partner organisations Science and Research Centre Koper and the municipality of Koper have demonstrated how successful inter-institutional cooperation can be. As part of the project, 10 thematic meetings were organized at the Intergenerational Centre Morje, to form a group of migrant women who are less well integrated into society. The aim was to find out what their needs, wishes and obstacles for successful integration are, and what socio-educational activities can be offered to them in the following to facilitate their integration in the host country.

A group of women of different ages and cultures from Kosovo, North Macedonia, Nicaragua, Bosnia, Serbia, Ukraine, Russia, and Moldova was formed. The youngest is 19 years old and the oldest is 58. They are also diverse in their education and knowledge, but their common point is the desire to learn Slovenian and to be more involved in social and relaxing activities.

During these relaxed and informal meetings, the participants offered valuable insights into the limitations of education, job search, awareness of rights and duties, and integration into the local environment. With the help of the intercultural mediators, they exchanged recipes, learned Slovenian expressions, shared their morning routines, found a common interest in sewing and cooking, and most importantly, encouraged further cooperation not only within the framework of the project, but as active residents of Koper.

As the most important finding from the project activities so far, we would like to emphasize the importance of informal and relaxed events, which are crucial for the feeling of inclusion among migrant women, as well as the importance of non-formal education, which contribute to the networking between migrant women and actors such as governmental and non-governmental organizations in a fun, personal, participatory and innovative way.

Subsequently, a programme of up to 160 hours for a group of 30 participants of the PITCH project will be carried out, which will allow them to improve their skills, raise awareness of their rights and duties, as well as enable them to integrate into the local environment. The focus is on learning Slovenian language at both the introductory and basic levels (A1 and B1), as the acquisition of the language is crucial for a truly successful integration of migrant women into the host country. The language courses in cooperation with the Adult Education Centre Koper and the Intergenerational Centre Morje start in October 2023 and will last until the end of January 2024. Other activities will be organized too, such as offering help with writing CV and job applications, social events, neighbourhood orientation, and more. Childcare will be provided throughout the programme to encourage the mothers to stay involved.

By the end of March 2024, the programme for migrant women will be evaluated to determine which practices work best in local environment while promoting integration and inclusion.

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