IOM Supports Diaspora Women from East & Horn of Africa Engagement for Sustainable Development
Entebbe, Uganda – IOM, the International Organization for Migration/UN Migration, for the East and Horn of Africa region and IOM Uganda, have brought together diaspora, women and men, from the region and beyond, leaders and representatives from governments and, Regional Economic Communities, the private and public sector, and academia, to explore how diaspora women can use their skills, knowledge, and networks to lead and support humanitarian and development efforts in the region in times of crisis and beyond.
Diaspora women and men from East and Horn of Africa, the United States, South Africa, the Netherlands, Canada, and other countries, originating from Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia attended the meeting in Entebbe, Uganda on July 31, and August 1. At the meeting the women discussed with government representatives, from the Ministries of Labour and Foreign Affairs, how to create more gender-responsive diaspora engagement policies to make it easier for diaspora women to provide humanitarian and development assistance and investments. They also discussed the significance of the diaspora (both men and women) as agents of change, ambassadors of peace and development, and the role they play in times of crisis and beyond. Suggestions on how to improve communication between diaspora and organizations such as IOM and their respective governments, were also made.
Some of the women who participated have been leading and supporting humanitarian and development efforts for example during the Covid-19 pandemic, by initiating projects in the agriculture industry, academia, climate change and environment, midwifery, psychotherapy, mental health and other areas.
South African, Dagmawit Aynalem Abebe, originally from Ethiopia, moved back to her home country in 2022 to work in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sector and other private sector areas. She employed over 25 Ethiopians in South Africa, who have been sending cash remittances back home and supporting families and local communities. She says there’s been an increase in returning diaspora expertise, networks, and approaches which are contributing to effective crisis response, recovery, and sustainable development outcomes back home.
“The profile of returning diasporas is changing. Many are coming back with lots of exposure, knowledge, and a tendency to accept challenges as they come, with a contagious energy and readiness to support their community teach other women and make a visible difference by providing financial support, their time and knowledge.” Dagmawit Aynalem Abebe
Dr. Amina Hersi is a Forbes magazine recognized Somali-Kenyan entrepreneur who has made landmark investments and developments in Uganda. She says diaspora women want to support the development sector, specifically in the construction industry which is predominantly male-dominated.
“Women have the inherent ability to build and grow investments successfully from scratch through their networks. Diaspora women can be supported by their governments through creating conducive environments, systems and policies that promote and enable them to realize their visions.” Dr. Amina Hersi.
According to the World Bank, remittances from the diaspora to Sub-Saharan Africa reached $53 billion US Dollars by the end of 2022. In the East and Horn of Africa remittances increased in Kenya by 8.5%, Tanzania by 25%, Rwanda by 21%, and Uganda by 17%. Remittances helped to address food insecurity, supply chain disruptions, drought, floods, and foreign debt. Many contributions from diasporas, particularly diaspora women, still though remain largely undocumented and under-reported, so the amount of cash being sent home from the diaspora could be significantly higher.
The Minister of State for Gender and Culture in the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, Uganda, Peace Regis Mutuuzo said governments in the region are committed to supporting for diaspora initiatives.
“I want to reassure you on behalf of the Government of Uganda, that all efforts to leverage the role of diaspora women will receive support at the highest levels of government”.
Uganda’s Minister of State for Regional Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hon. John Mulimba who also attended the meeting said. “Women in the diaspora were previously perceived as passive agents, and their experiences were regarded only as those of ‘wives’ and ‘partners.’ Recent global migration data shows that of 206 million migrants, 48% are women. This feminization of migration speaks to a higher proportion of women in the migrant workforce and demonstrates their motivations to migrate and play a positive role in global development and economies.”
IOM Uganda Chief of Mission Sanusi Tejan Savage during the event said. "We would like to promote strategic partnerships between diaspora private sector women leaders, local communities, NGOs, public and private sectors, and governments in countries of origin and host countries. IOM can be the bridge for such partnerships."
The workshop is in line with IOM East and Horn of Africa Regional Strategy 2020 - 2024 which highlights plans to empower migrants and the diaspora as agents of transformative and inclusive economic growth.
The event took place under auspices of the Regional Ministerial Forum on Migration (RMFM) and the RMFM Technical Working Group (TWG) on “Gender, Diaspora and Private Sector Engagement” , the new sub-group on “Diaspora Women in the private sector leading Humanitarian and Development Action in times of crises & beyond” will provide a strategic guidance to enable, engage and empower diaspora women in the private sector to participate in humanitarian and development action. The event was funded by the Better Regional Migration Management Program (BRMM), implemented by IOM Regional Office Nairobi, with funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO); it aims to enhance labour mobility, migration governance, and protection of migrant workers and their family members’ human, social, economic and labour rights.
For more information, please contact BRMM Communication Officer Janet Adongo at email@example.com or the IOM Regional Office for East and Horn of Africa Media and Communication Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org