This past weekend, I was at an event organised by Maisha e.V. in Frankfurt. For those that don’t know, Maisha e.V. is a women’s organization in Frnakfurt started in 1996 by Virginia Wangari Greiner, a Kenyan. The organisation handles issues that affect immigrant women who would like to integrate into the German soceity. Not only do they organise events where these women can come and just meet other women and network but they offer services and A LOT of information. From their website, “The concept is to empower each other to become a proud and active part of German society but at the same time remain firmly rooted in our culture and African background. We encourage each woman to become active in her own community.” You can read about Wangari in the article I wrote about her recently: Virginia Wangari Greiner – Helping Women Integrate.For many years, I’ve wanted to attend their events but everytime they have an event it crashes with my schedule, so imagine my pleasure when this time, I had a chance…..The event was on Impact of Violence on Women.
Involving the police in case of Domestic Violence
In cases where a woman is being abused by her husband, in-laws or even step children or their own children in the home, it is safe to involve the police. Victims have rights, and right to protection by the police is one of them. The usual case is where the neighbours call the police during a quarrel but some attacks aren’t as dramatic and sometimes they might never attract the neighbours thus it becomes your responsibility to seek help.
You can press charges against the person that attacked or attacks you at the police station and have a friend or confidant act as your witness. You can also take a friend to act as your translator.
It was noted that violence in many relationship starts due to over dependence on one partner. If one partner solely relies on the other, then it becomes a burden and may lead to frustration and eventually violence. Women were encouraged to try and get into business to reduce their reliance on their husbands who are also struggling.
It was suggested that the government look into making visas relationship independent, because women who had visas dependent on their relationship would end up losing not only a relationship after a divorce but also their businesses in cases where the women were deported after divorce. If the visas were relationship independent, these women would be able to sustain themselves even after a divorce.
Discrimination was also noted be a HUGE problem when women tried to start businesses. The presenter shared the story of the lady from the UK who owned a coffee shop. The black woman found that when she was the one running her coffee shop, white people would walk in, look around then walk out. She experimented by employing a white employee, and every time the black woman stayed in the background, the clients came in and the café was full. The lady having had enough, put up a warning sign that read:
Everyone be aware, I am a black woman and always will be. If you are allergic to black people, don’t come in.
But if you prefer quality wholesome meals in a pleasant and clean environment, come in.
I don’t bite!
Thanks – Martha Renée
Women were encouraged to form partnerships and collaborations as they started their businesses. Partnerships would ease the stress of having to do everything alone in the beginning. It was also noted that banks needed to be more sympathetic to immigrant women trying to start businesses.
Anyone starting a business needs a strong and solid business plan. During the entrepreneurship session, they did a “Business Plan Writing Crash Course”, where they shared tips on what a good business plan should entail.
I would definitely encourage anyone and everyone in and around Frankfurt to show up at such events. They’re very informative even to those who might not be going through the issues addressed e.g. this past event wasn’t only open to women in violent relationships.
The next event is scheduled for 5th October at the Maisha Offices in Nairobi. The same issues discussed at the event on Saturday shall be discussed but this time aimed at the crowd in Kenya. At this event there was also a student from Maisha Offices in Kenya who was here on a 3 month exchange program. 2 other ladies (who were also at the Career Fair in Köln) were there to welcome the attendees to join them in Nairobi where they will organize the next event. The two ladies will be going to Kenya for 3 months.
Maisha will be organizing an entrepreneurship forum this September so look out for the details on that. I hope many of you will make time to attend.