Ewa Sobczynska

Ewa Sobczynska (Transnational AIDS Prevention Among Migrant Prostitutes in Europe Project – TAMPEP, Turin): Ewa is originally from Poland. She speaks Polish, English, German, French and Spanish. She earned her B.A. at Adelphi University, NY in International Studies with a concentration in Political Science and French and also studied at Adam Mickiwicz University in Poland. At the time of her fellowship Eva was studying for a Master’s degree at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University.

Empowering the Women

03 Aug

For the past couple of weeks I have been working on the follow up of TAMPEP project in Nigeria, Albania and Marocco that I described in one of my early posting – ALNIMA. TAMPEP is getting ready to launch ALNIMA2 but this time we would solely concentrate on the Nigerian dimension of the project – our beneficiaries would be the women of Edo State, at risk of trafficking and these that have been deported from Italy. The goal is to empower the women economically so that they are less prone to being trafficked – give them opportunities in their home countries so that there’s an incentive to stay. This is achieved through series of training sessions in basic skills like hairdressing or tailoring, self-capacity building seminars and enrolment in a micro-credit scheme. In addition, ALNIMA2 aims at raising HIV/AIDS awareness about the women participating in the seminars – so that they themselves are aware of the problem and can advocate the issue with their colleagues and future customers. Moreover, ALNIMA2 contributes to the increase of literacy in Edo State – as many women are unable to read or write, TAMPEP, before enrolling them into the project, encourages them to participate in the basic alphabetization course, where they learn how to read and write.

However, there is a deeper dimension of this project than the economic empowerment. Although this is an important step, the end goal is to start a social change and make the Nigerian women more independent. As we often discuss during our weekly meetings of Unita di Strada with our Nigerian cultural mediators, Nigerian women occupy a much lower position in the Nigerian society. In the polygamic Nigerian family with many children, girls are already at a disadvantage – boys are given priority in education; women are basically dependent on their family until they marry – and then are dependent on their husbands. For the Nigerian women who work in Italy this dependency on their family translates in the obligation to send money back home to support the family. This hits hard the girls who have decided to denounce their traffickers and take advantage of Article 18 – as it is hard to find a job in the depressed Italian economy, they are under pressure to go back to the street as their only recourse to make some money that they can send back home.

ALNIMA2 attempts thus to create a long-term social change- women, by becoming more economically independent are themselves an engine of this change. It create opportunities for women to become independent- but this change is not forced on them but rather comes from within them. This, in the end, is the ultimate weapon against traffickers.

Posted By Ewa Sobczynska

Posted Aug 3rd, 2005

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