Political rights and social participation: convergences dialogues: networks, cities and local actors in building alternative public policies

By : Maria Lígia Vieira de Melo

A webinar led by women

That is how the third webinar of the European Social Forum on Migrations was held on February 18th. The theme was: Political rights and social participation: convergences dialogues: networks, cities and local actors in building alternative public policies.

Mediated by Cyntia de Paula, president of the House of Brazil in Lisbon, the webinar counted with the participation of Nathalie Père-Marzano, president of the Organization for a Universal Citizenship and member of the network Migrations Alliance, Alina Lyapina from the Seebrücke Foundation and network From the Sea to the City, Marie-Dominique Dreysse from the National Association of Welcoming Cities and Territories, and Carla Calado from the Portuguese Intercultural Cities Network.

All speakers gave a brief presentation of the work carried out by their organizations

They share a common agenda of welcoming and including exiles and immigrants to cities or territories willing to receive them, helping in their integration, in the exercise of their citizenship, and in guaranteeing their fundamental rights. They aim at working together with society to combat bigotry and to include the debate on immigration in public policies.

The speakers and mediator stressed the importance of civil society participation together with these organizations and local authorities in changing public policies and the access to migrants’ and exiles’ rights. As Marie-Dominique Dreysse said, migrations issues cannot be dealt without citizens, and cities will not evolve without citizens and their awareness.

During the debate, the speakers were asked very relevant questions, and one of them was what can be done to prevent these anti-immigration policies. The speakers’ answers ranged from fighting stereotypes, changing the way media presents these immigrants and refugees, demystifying the belief that exiled people and immigrants are the cause of the economic crises in Europe and that it is impossible to receive them due to state saturation, to fighting false information that circulates on social networks and media.

Closing the panel

It was asked how actions and movements to insert migrants in the official political sphere have been mobilized. Ana Calado, answered that in fact there is little information about political rights and there is a belief that getting involved in politics is only for a few. Nathalie also pointed out that for these immigrants to be willing to participate in immigration issues together with local authorities, they need to have their basic needs met, such as food, housing, health, and employment, and it is therefore essential to allow them to have access to fundamental rights and to be integrated into society, along with fighting the idea that they do not contribute to the economic and social development of the cities.

The thought raised by the speakers remains: how can we ask refugees and immigrants to think about claiming their political rights if for many even fundamental rights are not guaranteed? We as civil society and organizations must fight for these guarantees.

Get ready because our European Social Forum on Migrations is coming up!

It will take place from March 15 to 26. And don’t forget to register to participate in the self-managed activities, proposals must be submitted by March 7th. Our next webinar will be held on March 11th with the theme Human Rights: criminalization of migration and solidarity, militarization, border externalization of Fortress Europe, violation of migrants’ and refugees’ rights at origin, transit and destination.

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