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African Migrant Women

Final Report Summary - AFRICANMIGRANTWOMEN (African Migrant Women)

The Fellow's research was mainly focused on polygamy prcatices among Senegalese and Gambian migrant women in Europe, more precisely in Spain and in France. The scientific objective was to generate new knowledge and comprehension of African family changes in Europe and in Africa. The principal conceptual contribution was to explore the experiences of these migrants by connecting them to a vast panel of debate on the links between migration and gender, the Ageing theory and the shape of the co-spouses' substitution and resistance. In accordance with this key objective, the research wish to present empirical analysis on the role and experience of African migrant women based on evidence gathered from locality-samples in the four quoted societies. Through a specific anthropological demography methodology, the project brought into question meaningful notions of ethnicity, transnationalization, gender and the changing context in relation to aesthetic and body concepts of African women in the settlement countries mainly in Spain and France (Europe) and in Senegal and Gambia (Africa). Employing statistical and qualitative data, the project centred on the under-explored subject of African immigrant women in Spanish, French, Senegalese and Gambian societies. The project managed to analyse these new behaviours following a psychosocial and sociological approach.
Further on, the project was interested in the management of the remittances of immigrant husbands towards the countries of origin and on the family changes in their new "homes" in Europe and in Africa. It aspired not only to study the body, the aesthetics of Senegalese and Gambian woman, the functions of age groups the problems of the replacement of second and third spouses and/or their "depreciation", but also to question the masculinity of the husbands. The research also carried out an in depth analysis on certain pathologies like impotence. The project delivers results that have the potential to be expanded or replicated for migrant organizations, African migrant women networks, social workers, professionals, policy makers and to allow for evidence from a new direction and opening up under-researched areas of inquiry. The results helped for the understanding of polygamy practices in Europe and to have a better knowledge on these practices. It will also help professionals (social workers) to extend their know-how in getting involved in depth in the migrant Communities and participate in whole social networking
The fieldwork began in May 2009 and has ended in January 2010 and it was held in Africa and in Europe.
An under-estimated number of African women, settled in Europe, are living in a polygamous situation. They are often considered to be very vulnerable and to be in a high risk in their immigration condition. With all the information gathered and available, the project has drawn new prevention strategies in terms of:
-having more precise information on Senegalese and Gambian women in Europe, mainly in Spain and in France and their practices of polygamy
-helping document the diverse experiences of these women in order to know what is going on for the benefit of policy makers so they can be assured that these kinds of practices are really happening in Europe
-helping organizations such as NGO or other private and public institutions overcome challenges such as inadequate access to the true information on polygamy practices, lack of knowledge among professionals (psychologists, social workers, etc.).
-dealing with co-spouses' substitution and all the legal and informal initiatives the women develop to resist against such practices and mistreatments
-comparing the experiences and the benefits of the project from various perspectives and directions (historical contexts, immigrants and nationals, multi-sited spaces, etc)
-presenting the results that are pertinent for gender strategy planning in workshops, seminars and Master courses in the UK, Spain and in Africa