In recent years, the widespread misinformation regarding migration has negatively impacted migrants and diaspora communities. This has resulted in increased instances of discrimination, hate speech, the endorsement of anti-migrant policies, and the propagation of stereotypical gendered narratives. In response to these challenges, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) hosted a hybrid side event during the 14th Summit of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) on 24 January 2024. The event brought together representatives from governments, non-governmental and diaspora organisations, research institutions, and the private sector to discuss strategies for amplifying migrants’ voices and examining the role of diaspora actors in challenging biased and gender-stereotyped narratives.
Amaka Felly Obioji, Co-founder and Managing Editor at Diaspora Africa, was invited as a speaker to explore how Diaspora Africa has employed digital solutions to address gendered vulnerabilities and promote positive narratives about migration. Other panel speakers included Jena Wuu (Head, Global Policy Programmes, Meta, Germany); Dr. Linda Oucho, (Director, African Migration and Development Policy Centre, Kenya); and Dr. Maruja Asis (Director, Scalabrini Migration Centre, Philippines).
When discussing Diaspora Africa’s interventions to support positive migration narratives, Amaka stated, “We understand that migration affects women differently and at Diaspora Africa, we use data to research how migration policy affects women. For example, we recently examined the UK’s new migration policy, which restricts postgraduate students on non-research courses from bringing family members or dependents during their studies in the UK. We understand the importance of family for women because of their cultural backgrounds and beliefs. In light of this, it essential that governments take a gender-responsive approach when adopting migration policies.”
Amaka further elaborated on how Diaspora Africa consistently monitors migration trends among Africans, documenting stories of African migrants. During the panel session, she provided insights into Diaspora Africa’s interview with Peppy Chidinma Akaniro, a migrant in the UK. Akaniro recounted her journey to Cambridge with her family for a postgraduate degree in Public Policy. She highlighted the challenges posed by the new UK immigration policy, revealing that waiting another year would have forced her to choose between studying in the UK and staying with her family in Nigeria. Akaniro also shared her narrative on Facebook, underscoring the role of social media and digital platforms in conveying migrants’ real-life experiences in host countries.
Other panelists also shared insights on how their respective organisations have significantly contributed in using digital solutions to change gender-stereotyped narratives about migration. Dr Linda Oucho, Director of African Migration and Development Policy Centre, Kenya, discussed the prevalent assumption that the primary migrant is the visa holder, usually the husband. She emphasised the need to recognise the challenges faced by women during migration, stating, “In my organisation, when we interview female migrants, they always share their experiences and the challenges they face during migration. However, we tend to overlook them because of the assumption that they don’t face difficulties. We need to strike a balance and get both genders involved in migration issues.”
Dr Maruja Asis, Director of Scalabrini Migration Centre, Philippines, addressed migrants in the Philippines, highlighting her organisation’s studies that debunk the common belief that fathers do not step up to care for their children when mothers migrate abroad for work. She pointed out the influence of social media and digital platforms in disseminating ideas, stressing the importance of addressing false narratives about migration for inclusive discussions.
Jina Wuu, Head of Global Policy Programmes, Meta, Germany, spoke about the program she developed which aims to catalyse technological adoption by providing ads donation, translation support, and creative support. She explained, “we build resilience in end-users to better understand the content they see online and know what to share and trust. The whole idea is to reduce the prevalence of low quality content shared online.”
Diaspora Africa continues to collaborate with other organizations, learning how African migrants and diaspora communities are impacted by growing migration policies and trends.
Watch the video from the event below: