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Migration, Human Rights and Integration: an interview with Cristina Manzanedo for Ödos, one of WEMov’s stakeholders

    Zoom interview (25 May 2023)

    Interview by Camelia Zavarache 

    Cristina Manzanedo is a lawyer who specializes in transnational migration, with a focus on women and children migrants coming from African countries. She coordinates the programme Ödos in Cordoba, Spain, which provides women migrants with temporary accommodation and legal support once they reach the Spanish coast. She is also a spokeswoman for the rights and legal hardships these migrants face, thus advocating for them while educating the public through articles published in broadsheets.

    Camelia Zavarache: Welcome and thank you for taking the time to participate in the interview. 

    Cristina Manzanedo: Thank you!

    Camelia Zavarache: Your experience as a lawyer working on women’s migration is long lasting and your presence as a spokesperson on their behalf is significant; we would like to know more about the way you started your career. Why did you choose to study Law? Was that the time you started being aware of the issues regarding migration?

    Cristina Manzanedo: No, migration came later in my life. I was 18 years old when I began my Law studies. At that time, I was not concerned about migration, I chose Law looking for some Humanistic studies; my father was a lawyer maybe that influenced me. When I finished Law, I started working for a business law firm. But, after four years I had the opportunity to take an LLM in New York, a Master’s in Law and that stop in my professional career made me revisit what I wanted to do with my life and it was during that year, by that time I had already about five years of business law experience, and I decided I wanted to make a change and try to work for the common good. So, I changed my professional career in 200…, I don’t remember the year. And migration came later; in 2010 migration appeared in my life and I joined the third sector, the NGO sector in working on migration issues up until now. So, migration is relatively, well not new in my life, it’s been a 10 year experience.

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you! What are the most evident differences between migrants coming from other European countries, especially Eastern Europeans, and those coming from Africa in terms of legal issues, education and cultural background?

    Cristina Manzanedo: Members of the European Union have a migration framework which is very flexible for mobility between member states. Third country nationals have much more difficulties to migrate to the European Union. Among Eastern European countries, Ukraine has made a change in European policy, it’s not a member of the European Union, Ukrainians are third country nationals. However, the European Union in support to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees put in place new measures with them, that have not been applicable to African nationals. Ukrainian refugees have been welcomed whereas in general third country migrants are not welcomed and they were allowed for example, to make secondary movements which is very, very exceptional. Ukrainians have been allowed to choose their country of residence whereas third country migrants who arrive in the European Union and seek international protection have to stay in the country of arrival and if they move to other European countries those secondary movements are penalised strongly by the European Union. Those in terms of the legal framework. In terms of the education and background, Ukrainians have a much more similar background to European countries than Africans, except for the language. If we leave aside Eastern European countries but with the rest of Europe, the Ukrainian language is very different and Ukrainians are facing huge problems with language, which is a basic tool for integration. Whereas Africans, Sub-Saharan Africans speak either English or French and therefore learning all the European states language in that respect is easier although their cultural and educational background is much more different to ours.

    Camelia Zavarache: Interesting! What are the main legal challenges women and children coming from Africa face in European countries? 

    Cristina Manzanedo: The lack of migration policies with gender approach and with children approach. Women are only contemplated specifically in European policies in terms of penal infringement; in terms of trafficking, as victims of trafficking. But for the rest, African migrant women do not receive specific attention in migration policies nor do children. Children only receive attention if they are unaccompanied minors, that is if they travel on their own, if they are adolescents aged 16-17, but if they come with their mother or with a woman it is presumed that they are with a woman, they are taken well care of and there is no child approach. I think that is the main problem because there are no specialized reception centres for women and children unless they present indicators of trafficking. And when it comes to integration, most migrants’ NGOs for example work with men, with families but being a woman with a child alone in Europe, an African mother with a child is very, very difficult. Even the speech usually refers to migrant women, but we only talk about women whereas many women are also mothers. And how does that affect migrant women that is usually absent in policies and also in the narratives of civil society; when we talk about women we have proposals for women, not for women and mothers. However, in our experience small children they arrive in the vast majority of cases they migrate with their mothers, not with the fathers. It is women who are in monoparental migrant families: when we talk about monoparental in our experience in the vast majority of the cases it is the mothers who leave with the child, not the fathers.

    Camelia Zavarache: So, I am guessing this makes things more complicated in terms of finding a job, because they need to find a way to take care of the children but at the same time who is watching the children while they work?

    Cristina Manzanedo: Yes, being a single mother is very difficult even for European single mothers. If, in addition to single motherhood you add being a migrant woman and you add being African, being “noir”, and being irregular, if you donʼt have papers, then you are in a very tough situation. Usually migration policies prioritise the condition of migrants over the best interests of the child. So, we usually look at women as migrants not as mothers and we therefore prioritize their irregular migration conditions, whereas… We lack focus on what is the best interest of the child. The International Child Convention says that whenever policies and authorities deal with children the best interest of the children has to be the main criteria to decide over the situation. So, that should be more important than the migration condition, but that is not the case. Child protection authorities are separated from migration authorities and child policies differ from migration policies, are different actors, different policies.

    Camelia Zavarache: I see. 

    Cristina Manzanedo: However, the increasing arrivals of women with children, because the tendency is that… Some years ago mostly males crossed the Mediterranean, mostly male migrants arrived but there is an increasing tendency of arrivals of women and an increasing tendency of arrivals of accompanied minors with women, women with children. Itʼs like … so the flows are changing and the increasing figures of arrivals I think should make us rethink a bit migration policies and minor protection policies to better understand the challenges of these transnational migrant families and better respond to… better identify their needs and respond to them.

    Camelia Zavarache: Absolutely. Does the European Commission have a legislation and the legal tools to regulate and bring relief to their situations? Or the onset response depends entirely on the body of laws each member state has?

    Cristina Manzanedo: As you know, the European Commission only has the competences that European member states have agreed to give to the Commission; no more, no less. In the field of migration, the states have mostly decided to retain national competences. However, the Commission has issued directives, which are the common legal framework to be later developed at national level. And the Commission has made a big effort to build a common approach at least in the area of international protection; there are some directives there. And also the European Parliament has very interesting resolutions regarding the European model of integration and there is a consensus at European level that integration, and a consensus and a lot of thought, of criteria that integration is a bilateral process that requires migrants that want to integrate but also state members and civil societies ready to welcome and integrate. And then, the European Commission in the last years has made a big effort to reach a consensus on border management. The problem is that actually migration has created a lot of tensions among member states and a consensus at this point is very difficult to reach because actually the migration interests of northern European states differ from those of the southern European state, which differ from those of Eastern European ones. So, migration is creating tensions and it is regrettable that Europe has not been able to achieve a consensus especially on how to manage access to the European Union, arrivals to the European Union with respect to human rights and also with a view of self interest. Increasingly, migration is not an issue of human rights but an issue of economic interests to an aging and in need of global talent European Union. But so far, progress at the European level is slow and most issues are still decided at national level, with some exceptions. For example, Ukraine: access of Ukrainian refugees was decided by consensus at the European level, it was a big achievement and that was much led by the European Commission, which obtained a consensus to welcome Ukrainian refugees and to put in place a temporary directive. Well, things that we thought were impossible, that Europe said was impossible, but with political will, these have been possible. Now, my aspiration is that migration was managed more collectively between European member states. It is difficult to manage it at national level. Migrants arrive in Europe and move within Europe, whether we like it or not. So, the response, if we can respond collectively. And also, not only the arrivals but also the necessary dialogue with countries of transit, with countries of origin to manage migration in a positive way is easier if done at European level. Itʼs a global dynamic and global dynamics have to be managed globally, not nationally.

    Camelia Zavarache: Of course, and I think that the sooner the national states understand that it is in their best interest to work together towards a common legal ground, I think the better things will be, for everyone, not just for migrants. 

    Cristina Manzanedo: Yes, that is my point. Thank you!

    Camelia Zavarache: In your opinion, are the NGOs better equipped to respond to the needs of women and children migrants than border patrols?  

    Cristina Manzanedo: I donʼt think so, I think there is a public responsibility. Irregular arrivals pose the need of assessment of different profiles of those arriving. Because if you come with a visa, at the airport, all the checks are done either at the airport or the consulates, in the countries of origin. But with irregular arrivals there are issues of security with who is arriving, and also there is the need to identify among the arrivals who is in need of protection. The flows are mixed flows and mixed flows mean that there are different profiles of migrants and some of them have a right to stay in the European Union and have some rights,and there are legal frameworks. For example, minors, victims of trafficking, persons in need of international protection, they have the right, not only a right… National authorities have a duty, and it is a public policy. Border management, in my opinion, is an issue of concern not only for police, police knows of security, of registering in databases, ok, that is a work that is needed. But, this is also an issue for the child protection authorities, for the prosecutors, for the ministries that could need NGOs, NGOscannot act individually. The state needs to set some standards of receiving conditions, to set some standards to identify and that can be done by public professionals or by NGOs, not necessarily NGOs. We have had experience with very good work done byNGOs but also of law of poor quality. So, I think the … not only NGOs because in my view if only NGOs are in charge of arrivals it is a de-responsabilisation, a privatisation of public policies and not only an issue of … as the law and not only border patrols there are other actors that have responsibility towards these arrivals. We need to be able to reconcile access and human rights. But not only national authorities because at the end you need to have the people, you need to make stop the arrivals and do some screening, pick some information, and specialized NGOs are better equipped to do that frontline data more humanitarian, that’s the humanitarian part of the job. Also, there are some NGOs specialized in trafficking, in identifying vulnerabilities, so ideally itʼs best that the border management gathers public actors with specialized civil society, not only thecivil society.

    Camelia Zavarache: I see, thank you! So itʼs basically a response in different steps, and NGOs should come later on. 

    Cristina Manzanedo: No, because in Spain I think they should work hand in hand from the beginning. They should dialogue to establish procedures and, in that NGOs receiving migrants know which are the problems, the needs, so procedures should be made in dialogue and NGOs appear from the beginning because when migrants arrive they can be in jail, in the police office only 72 hours under Spanish law. But after 72 hours you cannot be deprived of your liberty unless it is so decided by a judge. So, after 72 hours, the NGOs have to be put in some place, either public or private. And, even upon arrival in Spain, for example, the Red Cross has very good reception services in harbours, when the boats arrive the first thing they see, before they see the police, the first thing they see is the personnel of the Red Cross responding to them. And they do a very quick health test and a first, urgent humanitarian assistance. So, I donʼt see the border management and reception services and reception policy as a two step approach.

    Camelia Zavarache: A partnership, itʼs a partnership.

    Cristina Manzanedo: Yes, a partnership.

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you! So, I will now start the second part of the interview. As a coordinator of Programa Ödos in Cordoba, Spain you are at the forefront of the assistance efforts towards African female migrants and their children. Could you tell us more about the purpose and the projects that Programa Ödos is coordinating?

    Cristina Manzanedo: The first purpose is to receive and help Sub Saharan women with children, travelling with children. Usually, the profile of this population is children under 10 years old. So, we are a specialized centre, so the purpose is to complement general reception centres with centres specialized in a specific profile, in our case women, and women with children. The purpose is to receive them and identify systematically possible vulnerabilities upon arrival, different profiles ofwomen, and guarantee their rights to international protection if the case may be, or identify possible indicators of trafficking, or those women who … In the field of trafficking we do secondary prevention that is all we can do in the context of arrivals, women with indicators of trafficking will usually move to other European countries, so what we can do is secondary prevention, keep solid information on what the situation is in other European countries, tell them about the legal protection framework in Spain and try to create a link so that if they are in trouble in the future they can get back in touch with us, right? Facilitating access to international protection and most of our women who access international protection do so on the grounds of sexual and gender-based violence. So, we have a psychologist specialized in trauma, who works with them and with children to prepare the interviews. And then, the third objective is to guarantee childrenʼs rights. So, we work with a child approach and when we speak about children’s rights we guarantee their right to identity and so we document children, we try to prevent invisible children arriving to Europe and moving to other European countries without any identification. So, the right to identity, to education, to health: minors are scholarized, we work with them as if they were going to stay in Spain, even if they later decide to move on: health, education… And we identify separated minors, our purpose is that minors who arrive with a woman who is not their biological mother are not withdrawn from that woman and are not sent to minor protection centres in Spain. Our goal is to keep them temporarily united for as long as we can do a determination of the best interest of the child on the medium term and try to locate the family and do reunifications; or if that woman is the mother, the de facto mother, that he could go on with his mother. So, these children who arrive without their biological mother are called “separated children”, children who are accompanied but not by their biological mother. So, this is in the area of intervention. 

    Our second goal is to contribute to the improvement of public policies and for that purpose we accompany our frontline work with systematic data registration, case documentation, we work hand in hand with two Universities to do research on the project, we carry evaluations and even though our programme is very young, we are five years old, we made an evaluation aftertwo years and now in 2023, we are under evaluation again and will publish the second evaluation. So, we want to render scientific results, to be able to contribute to an improvement of public policies and our advocacy and relations with the pertinent public actors is also a big part of our work. 

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you so much! That is so important; I was just curious because you have mentioned the University, is the one in Cordoba?

    Cristina Manzanedo: No, our partner universities in Spain are the University of Malaga for external evaluation, and the University of Sevilla for research on separated minors. 

    Camelia Zavarache: I see, and from these universities do you mean the Law Faculties or is it just for management, in general?

    Cristina Manzanedo: In the case of separated minors, we have an agreement with the Law Faculty. in the case of Malaga, the agreement is with the OCSPI which is an observatory of the University, with different disciplines for immigration and penal law. 

    Camelia Zavarache: I see, that is so interesting. Well, your work is impressive.

    Cristina Manzanedo: Thatʼs why they are doing these externally.

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you! I will move to the next question. It seems as though your institution acts and carries the work of first responders, in terms of providing accommodation and legal guidance to these migrants as they set foot on Spanish shore; do you think that arriving in the country is the time when migrants are most vulnerable? 

    Cristina Manzanedo: Ok. No, I think that arrival is not the time of greater vulnerability. I think the time of greater vulnerability is when they establish in their final destination and face the challenges for integration, the risks of exploitation, of racism. And I think also, they are most vulnerable when they cross the Mediterranean. At that time, they are risking their life which is our most precious asset. And many times, really the profile of women who cross the Mediterranean is a profile ofwomen who have faced sexual and gender-based violence many times. When they arrive in Europe they say “Boca!”, they are so happy. The time of arrival for them is a time of success, is a time of happiness. The responsibility of European member states at arrival is that arrivals bring some protection to these women because we know they are vulnerable, although they are in a reception centre at the time of arrival, they are well taken care of, but the future is very uncertain. So, our challenge is that arrivals are not just a corridor where women arrive and go, we donʼt know where with the children, we donʼt know where. But, no arrival is, I think in or experience they are most vulnerable with their final destiny.

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you! How does Programa Ödos collaborate with national Police forces and administration in their efforts to assist migrants? So, is it a partnership, since weʼve discussed it?

    Cristina Manzanedo: Ödos (the reception center) is a member of a humanitarian policy of Spain. We depend on the Ministry of Social Services, Social Exclusion and Migration. They support basic funding; we are partly funded by the Ministry and it is the Ministry that sends the women and children to our centre. So, there is a collaboration there, we need to, the Spanish Ministry carries a big database called SIRIA, where reception centres financed by the Ministry need to fill in very detailed information. So, we need to provide information so that they can follow up what happens and distribute the migrants upon arrival. The Ministry, we collaborate with the national police because when the women arrive with children, a good practice of Spain is that police takes a DNA test to know if that woman is the mother or not, because the women arrive undocumented. So, we collaborate with the police so that they know that the women are with us when the proof arrives: they tell us and if the woman is not their mother, then we communicate that they are going to stay with us. Usually, the women have told us in advance so we inform the police and they allow, the police and the prosecutor, not to separate them while we do this job. We also collaborate with the police in trying to explain to the police that not everything is trafficking. The police is very worried that these women and children are victims of trafficking, and the public speech frequently links women, irregular arrivals with trafficking. In our experience that is not the reality, there is trafficking but not everything is trafficking. There are also processes of migrants’ reunification in Europe, in a fortress Europe, where legal reunification is very difficult for African families and sometimes they have to take irregular means and also there are increasingly migrant women with their own migration projects as men, so they migrate, they are not victims all of them. So we try to …, we collaborate with them, we meet with them when they are in our centre. Ödos has stable institutional relations with the police, with the Ministry, with the prosecutor to make more visible the real situation and needs of these women and children which is very stereotyped in our experience.

    Camelia Zavarache: I see, so it is a partnership but I was curious this good practice that Spain is showing is it the result of its own experience or is it the result of actually following those European directions you were mentioning before?

    Cristina Manzanedo: In the case of Ödos, Ödos was born by private initiative, it was promoted privately by a group of people with experience in migration who saw that there was a need that was not being addressed by the system, which is the special focus and attention on women and children. That private initiative was set up with the purpose of being included in the national policy for two reasons: one financially because carrying private reception centres is impossible, we have 50 places and it is possible at the beginning, but not for ever. And also because it is a public responsibility to be part of this and allows us to be part of the dialogue. So, in the case of a focus on women and children, I feel that the leadership of focusing on special vulnerable people in arrivals in our case came before by civil society and it is true that it is now increasingly in the speech of the European Commission, but it was not so some years ago. We are very happy that Europe is increasingly speaking about the need to identify vulnerabilities upon arrivals, but this is relatively new. 

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you so much!

    Cristina Manzanedo: And in Spain this is completely, this is also new. With Ödos, we feel that we are pushing in the same direction as the European Commission and that Spanish politics, Spanish reception policies and border management still need to improve, are still not very strong in identifying vulnerabilities upon arrivals, we are not as strong in that in terms of policies.

    Camelia Zavarache: You are doing a lot, but there is still a lot to be done further.

    Cristina Manzanedo: Politically, a lot has been done, not on the policy side, that is why I say in our case, Ödos, we feel that we are more aligned with the European Commission and the European Union Asylum Agency, the EUAA, more than with national Spanish policies. I think that Europe is pressing Spain, the European Asylum Agency and the European Commission. We feel that is contributing to reinforce vulnerabilities identification in the Southern border of Europe.

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you! So, I think you have already said some things about that but I will ask you anyway: do the perils associated with crossing the Mediterranean Sea have a negative psychological impact on the women and children in such boats? If so, what are the means Programa Ödos employ to alleviate such traumatic experiences?

    Cristina Manzanedo: We can testify that the travel by boat leaves trauma for women and children, it is violence in itself having to move risking your life in a boat. So, most of the children and the women who arrive present indicators of trauma, of having suffered different violence, not only by boat, it may be in transit, it may be upon departure. For that reason, a key position in Ödos is women’s psychologists specialized in trauma, who speak French. Itʼs a key position and we cannot, upon arrival, restore and close that trauma, that needs more time. So, upon arrivals our Ödos Programme has acquired an experience of what emotional, psychological support can be done taking into account that we are dealing with women and children on the move, and people on the move it is very probable that they will continue moving. They will be with us maybe three months, one month, maybe one year, maybe for who knows how long, but they’re people on the move so there are certain limits to what we can do. But we can also testify that even if they stay for a week, there is an emotional psychological work that can be done. 

    Camelia Zavarache: Yes, I think I was expecting that response, thatʼs why I asked you, I cannot imagine.

    Cristina Manzanedo: No, specialized psychologists are not part of the humanitarian reception policy. I donʼt think it is so evident that they present indicators of trauma. They are only present in the speech if they present indicators of trafficking; Spanish policies and public speech only speak of trafficking, not of violence, our legal framework is not El Convenio de Varsovia (the Warsaw Convention) which is for trafficking. We believe that all women are victims of violence and some are victims of trafficking. We advocate for the Istanbul Convention which is the convention on violence against women to be applied, to also be a framework for these women, not only the Warsaw Convention. And in the case of children, there nobody speaks of child trauma, itʼs not … children look happy. In our experience itʼs violence, some families are staying in Spain, some families move to other countries; for those who decide to stay in Spain then we have connections with other organizations and we provide the possibilities of a longer stay and it is in that second phase when the trauma and the consequences of violence appear and more in-depth work is needed. 

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you! I will get to the next question which is: is language a major barrier when dealing with people coming from other spaces?

    Cristina Manzanedo: No, in the case of Ödos, our team, most of them speak French, which is now the language that the majority of women and children speak. The roads changed, so this might have not been the situation some years ago, the arrival of women and children were coming mostly from Anglophone Sub-Saharan countries, from Nigeria, from Niger. But, during the last years, the majority of the women and children arriving by boat come from Francophone West Africa, especifically from Côte dʼIvoire, Guinea Conakry and Cameroon in Central Africa, and most of them speak French in addition to the native language. We only have problems with very few, but very few of them who donʼt even speak French, who only speak African languages, but those are very, very few cases. In those cases we need to find a translator. So, no, we speak French with them.

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you! The last question of this section: In previous interviews available online you have discussed the many legal problems migrant women who give birth while on the move face, because both the exit country and the incoming one do not recognize such children as citizens of their own. What are the legal ways in which Programa Ödos can help in such extreme cases?

    Cristina Manzanedo: Those are minors in risk of statelessness due to the fact that they have been born in migration contexts. We have developed some strategic litigation to find possible solutions and the solution is guaranteeing a nationality to the child, we believe that under the Child Convention, a child has the right to a nationality and a child cannot be stateless. To grant the right to nationality, we have developed different strategies, one of them is litigating for Spanish nationality and we have obtained Spanish nationality for a girl born in a house in Morocco from a Cameroonian mother. The other strategy is to guarantee the right to birth registration. We have obtained in Spain for the first time the birth registration of a girl born in Algeria, guaranteeing the civil registry that the girl could not be registered in Algeria. So, the civil registry has registered only the birth, but that has been enough for the girl to acquire nationality, because with the birth registration the mother has presented the birth registration to her diplomatic authorities in Spain, which in this case was Cameroon and with that birth registration the Cameroonian authorities have recognized her as a Cameroonian national. So, we think there is a possible solution for these children: working with civil registries and in lack of a civil registration, then the solution is to litigate for Spanish nationality. That is what we are now working on several cases.

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you so much, that is so interesting! I think no one actually thinks about everything these women face, not only during their travel but also when they get to their destination. I remember that when I went to Spain with an Erasmus scholarship we spoke the language, we were ok there but at some point we wanted internet and they said: “We cannot make an internet contract unless you have NIE, you needed to be registered at the mayorʼs house”. So, we had no idea how we were supposed to do that and we had an older colleague who actually took the time to go with us and we got NIE. So, I was thinking now that you have mentioned everything all this legal system that you need to deal with. We were part of the European Union, we spoke the language and still we came across this moment, and we had no idea how to overcome it. And it wasnʼt even important, it was internet, and now I was just thinking how difficult it must be for those people to find solutions.

    Cristina Manzanedo: Yes, a very good practice of Ödos Programme is the collaboration with Montilla Social Services, Montilla is the municipality where we are located. And the Montilla municipality has accepted registry in the Padron, empadronamiento of children and women only with their NIE. They donʼt require passports, only with the devolution order issued by the police, with an NIE number they register them in the Padron. And that registration allows them access to education and to health care services. That is a very very good practice because many municipalities in Spain are requiring passports or resident permits to facilitate access of foreigners to the Padron, to the municipal census, and access to municipal census is key for access to education and health. 

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you so much!

    Cristina Manzanedo: At Ödos, there is also a network programme, really what we do is not only the work of Ödos, of Fundation Arco Iris. It is thanks to the collaboration at the municipal level with the social services, with local schools, with local health services. 

    Camelia Zavarache: It is a network of support. Thank you so much!  

    Cristina Manzanedo: This may be interesting with WEMov, Ödos usually proves that welcome and integration can also be done with people on the move, with women on the move, because in Europe most welcoming integration municipalities, all of them, show policies of integration of people who are living in the municipality long term, they are residents in the municipality. And the agreement between Ödos and the municipality of Montilla shows that Montilla has taken the political decision by unanimous consent, it is not a political decision, all the parties agree that Montilla welcomes and integrates people on the move, that it can also be done, at the municipal level and with municipal policies, and I think that is also a very good innovation and one of the points of innovation: the collaboration at the municipal level. 

    Camelia Zavarache: Of course. So, I will now start the last section of our interview. As a specialist of the law who has been working in the field of migration for decades focusing on women and children, you are best suited to evaluate the process of protecting such categories upon entering the country but also assisting them in their first steps towards integration. What more could be done to help these female migrants and their children not only to integrate but also ensure they have equal opportunities to develop and reach their potential?

    Cristina Manzanedo: Yes, I think that our challenge and our success will be to foster their potential, to empower them, will be a successful integration, for them and for our own benefits, no? It is not women, even if they have been victims of violence they have gone over that, they have developed resilience, how to … Usually, women migrants face the challenge of transforming hardships into resilience and how to transform that hardship into a motor of force for your life, right? How do we do that, how do we integrate a profile which is not just economic, people who are coming to fill in a job? And other skills are necessary, they require a support in the first stages but how do we help that process of women making decisions by themselves? I think that our challenge is to support the fact that they make their own decisions because policies and civil society usually present those women with a path to follow; this is the path, we know what you have to do, we know how you have to integrate, this is what you have to follow and we are not very respectful, I find, with women and children, we see them as fragile, as lacking capacity, as objects who need help. I think that we are very Euro-centric in that sense and we risk losing all of the potential that women bring with them and that is very humiliating for them and that is also a loss of asset richness for us. So, I think mainly what we need is to work on ourselves more then on the women, basically. 

    Camelia Zavarache: Change our mindset. 

    Cristina Manzanedo: Yes, I feel that the main work pending to be done is the work on ourselves. 

    Camelia Zavarache: Yes. Never estimate the power of a mother who wants a better future for her child, for herself. 

    Cristina Manzanedo: Yes, of course, and the reason of diversity, and the reason of capabilities and the differences between women; some women want to do a University career, others do not, some have very strong familial pressures in their countries of origin. So, the situation … women are … not only motherhood defines them, they are not only mothers, they are also women. So, how migration fosters… but it is true that they face huge challenges and they need some support and that support is not money, is not only money. There is a lot to think about what is useful, sometimes I have the impression that we spend a lot of money with not very good results, maybe we need more evaluation of public integration policies of women who are the beneficiaries of international protection, which are the results, no? And what good experience can we find in the European Union, which good practices of integration, this is a challenge and I feel some countries have taken good initiatives at identifying best practices.

    Camelia Zavarache: So, the last question we like to ask each stakeholder we interview: we would like to ask you what do you expect WEMov to bring to you? 

    Cristina Manzanedo: We are very happy to have joined WEMov because we find it is very complementary to us, we work with a specific profile of women, in a specific context and WEMov offers us the possibility to widen our perspective, to learn about the situation of other migrant women in Europe and also to learn from other professionals who are not front line service providers, advocacies on migration, to get in touch with researchers, with other profiles of people looking at migrant women from different places. And we are sure we can learn a lot and we can widen our view and our experience. So, we are very hopeful about the recent incorporation as a stakeholder of WEMov. 

    Camelia Zavarache: Thank you so much! We feel the same way, I think we can learn from each other. So, thank you so much for taking the time!

    Cristina Manzanedo: Thank you!

    Marie Ruiz: It was a very interesting interview and I cannot wait to publish it. Thank you so much!   ​