top of page
  • Writer's pictureCommunication NWC

New Women Connectors visiting European cities with UNITES project

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

UNITES (UrbaN InTEgration Strategies though co-design), is a project that trains and accompanies local authorities to co-design integration strategies with other stakeholders and migrants. This project is led by Eurocities, and includes a series of peer-visits to the 8 different cities taking part in the project, during which municipalities receive guidance from each other in planning and implementing their co-designed integration strategies. New Women Connectors participated in 3 of the study visits so far, in Prague, Grenoble and Zaragoza, to observe the work in terms of co-designed integration policies, as well as provide input and support towards meaningful participation mechanisms.

Each city comes from a different context and has different approaches to meaningful participation. Some cities have a very down-to-earth, bottom-up approach to participation, such as the city of Grenoble that has social contracts to dictate the expectation and obligations of the citizens, and believe that the participation of migrants helps strengthen solidarity among citizens. However, some structural barriers - related to administration, language and culture - can be found. In France for example, the culture of participation is historically lacking, which leads to Grenbole having few migrant or refugee led organizations in the city, similar to Prague, compared to Zaragoza. Another structural barrier that we noticed was related to funding and complex administrative financial structures: in Prague for example, the budgets are being allocated by departments that are not present on the ground. Channels of communication and observations that bring the administration closer to grassroots organizations are therefore highly needed.

Discussion moment between representants of municipalities during study visit in Zaragoza

Moreover, while many interesting projects are made by or in collaboration with migrant and refugee led organizations in each city, we noticed that the municipalities sometimes struggled to engage in further capacity building on advocacy tools and long lasting meaningful participation. The city of Zaragoza, for example, inspired the other municipalities by frequently engaging with migrant and refugee led organizations in cultural projects and spaces that were led by the people benefitting from them. However, these projects often only focus on cultural activities, not moving on to meaningful political change. Moreover, some projects building up on meaningful participation did not lean to sustainable outcomes. An example of this issue is the consultative event the municipality of Zaragoza organized to receive feedback on the new Action Plan in Integration. The event brought together a number of migrants and refugees who have been living in the city for a time ranging between a few months to over 20 years, and was a great initiative to collect feedback and receive input from the people concerned. However, the Action Plan itself remained long, technical and hence inaccessible for the bigger part of the population.

These study visits have been very fruitful for each city to get inspired by each other. Moreover, we have in New Women Connectors been able to observe the different challenges each municipality faces when co-designing integration strategies. Our presence as an organization has offered them insights from the point of view of migrants and refugees, but also held them accountable in case their efforts seemed insufficient and leaning towards tokenization.

We will stay in touch with the municipalities and observe how they implement our feedback, hoping for future collaboration. Stay tuned!

Representants of municipalities and organisations taking part

of the study visit in Prague


bottom of page