- A new program aimed at engaging West African women migrants in the development of their countries has been launched in Italy.
Bankrolled by the Italian government, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) brainchild dubbed Migrant Women for Development in Africa (W-MIDA) builds on IOM's existing efforts to involve African migrants in the development of their countries of origin through investment and business creation.
W-MIDA hopes to tap into the significant numbers of West African migrant women living in Italy.
"Although overall, women represent nearly 49% of all migrants in the country, among some West African diasporas, including the Nigerian, Cape Verde and Niger, women outnumber men," IOM said, adding, "in other Diaspora communities in Italy such as the Ghanaian, Cameroonian, and Ivorian, women migrants represent a significant force.
Most people see remittances as the main factor linking migration and development, with West African migrants in Italy remitting home nearly US $262 million in 2005 alone. Despite 72% growth in official remittances received since 2001, West Africa receives the lowest amount of remittances in the world.
IOM believed that "despite little available gender analysis of remittance patterns, women migrants do tend to remit more of their money over time than men." Women migrants also wire remittances to extended family instead of just spouse and children, depicting their responsibility for the well-being of their community.
W-MIDA is expected build on this by supporting West African women migrants interested in committing all or part of their remittances to establish small or medium enterprises (SMEs) in their countries of origin through joint ventures with Italian partners and host communities.
A maximum of 15 SME projects awaits selected women who will be equipped with training in business development and management.
“W-MIDA will be another way of making more effective use of remittances, the value of which can be greater if the cost of money transfers are reduced or if they are used to generate investment or towards social initiatives that will help in the long-term development of communities and countries,” said Tana Anglana, program manager of W-MIDA in Italy.
“We have seen with other MIDA programs the enormous benefits such initiatives and investment brings to migrants as well as home and host communities.”
Through Italian funded MIDA programs in Ghana and Senegal, IOM has already helped 18 migrants and their associations set up businesses in their home countries, which have already seen the creation of many new jobs both in Italy and in Ghana and Senegal.
IOM is expected to map West African women in Italy and Diaspora organisations and networks that have been set up and which could also work on migration and development issues. It will also able the organisation to get a clearer picture of remittance practices of West African women as well as set up a database of migrant women wanting to invest in SMEs.
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