How one advocacy group is championing migrant women’s rights in Cardiff

Ahead of International Migrant’s Day, a local advocacy group discusses diversity and refugee rights at a panel event hosted by Women’s Equality Network

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Local charity, WSSAG, works to bring about positive change in the refugee system in Wales. Credit: Unsplash

With a vision to see Wales free from all forms of gender discrimination, non-profit organisation, Women’s Equality Network Wales, hosted a panel event on 11 December, 2020 to discuss global women’s rights.

The regular online event, #WENCafé, led by the network’s director Catherine Fookes, invited panellists to share their thoughts on the work of Wales across various spheres to support women’s rights around the world.

Ahead of International Migrants Day, one panellist and social justice activist, Joys Viollette Njini, spoke of the Women Seeking Sanctuary Advocacy Group (WSSAG), where she works as project development officer. 

Wherever women are gathered, a lot of good things happen

The lobbying, advocacy and support group works locally to empower female refugees and asylum seekers in Cardiff.

Growing from strength to strength

WSSAG was created by Joys’ sister Constance Nzeneu in 2009, who at the time was an asylum seeker herself.

Based in Butetown and partnering with Cardiff University, the charity helps migrant women by providing free courses such as mental health, wellbeing and employment workshops, as well as English lessons, coffee mornings and digital skills classes.

The group has grown from strength to strength and now serves as a safe space and second family for many women in the community, Joys explained. 

“Wherever women are gathered, a lot of good things happen. Supporting each other is our strength,” Joys asserted. 

Establishing equality

Looking to the future, WSSAG hope the Welsh government will do more to support migrant women by providing more funding for important services.

This is the only way we can get diversity within the public life and the equality we’re seeking

For women who have arrived in the UK as sanctuary seekers, the challenges to participate in public life are great, said charity founder, Constance. The work to empower them starts at the grassroots level which requires both resources and funding, she added.

Joys concludes, “There should be more awareness created around this issue because this is the only way we can get diversity within the public life and the equality we’re seeking.”

To find out more about WEN Wales and WSSAG, follow the links below: