Black Women in Europe: From struggle to success

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Society & You - Social Critic
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 12:35

Today, it's easy to find women of African descent who have a successful career in Europe. Despite the obvious difficulties many of them also have excelled in politics. However, not long ago that success would have seemed impossible. To achieve greatness often these women have come a long way, both literally and figuratively.

To better appreciate the progress we think of the nineteenth century and consider the image of black women in Europe at that time. For the purpose of this article, just try to stories of women of the African diaspora who have leadership positions in countries other than the colonial powers that ruled their countries of origin before.

A history of racism


Postcard with Sarah Baartman, Wikipedia (public domain)

The story of the "Hottentot Venus" is a symptom of the relationship between Western and African women in the past two centuries. Hervieu Sébastien [en, fr], an African correspondent for the newspaper Le Monde in France, tells the story of Sarah Baartman from South Africa, better known as the "Hottentot Venus". In an article published in October 2010 on his blog, an overview [fr] of the film Abdellatif Kechiche which has its tragic history, Black Venus:

Au début du XIXème siècle, est cette emmenée preservative in Europe et devient an objet de raison de ses foire in proéminents attributs physiques. Certains "scientifiques" sa présence utilisent pour l'théoriser infériorité of "race noire." Seulement à dies Lorsqu'elle 25 ans et ses génitaux organs are cerveau sont dans des bocaux plates formalin, et son squelette et le corps sont moulage of exposés are au musée de l'Homme in Paris. C'est seulement France in 2002 that the dépouille acceptable rendre à l'Saartjie Baartman Afrique du Sud, a long ainsi concluant imbroglio juridique et diplomatique

In the early nineteenth century brought the slaves to Europe and became a sideshow attraction because of its prominent physical attributes. Some "scientists" used their presence to support the theory that the "black race" was inferior. At the time of his death, with only 25 years, her genitals and brain were placed in jars of formaldehyde. Its skeleton and a mold of his body were exposed in the Museum of Man in Paris. It was not until 2002 that France agreed to return the remains of Sarah Baartman to South Africa, ending a long series of entanglements [fr] legal and diplomatic.

Sarah Baartman died in Paris on September 29, 1815. Over 100 years later, the Khoikhoi people of South Africa Nelson Mandela asked who demanded the return of the remains of Sarah. The demand was met with refusal by the French authorities and the scientific community mentioning the birthright of science and the state, but France finally the body repatriated to South Africa where, according to the rites of his people, was purified and lay on a bed of dry grass that caught fire.


Two centuries later, the situation of black women in Europe has changed dramatically. Many of them have been elected to political office, among others.

Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen in Wikipedia (Norway) (CC-BY 3.0)

Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen in Norway is one of those women, and one of the most interesting because it shows the contradictions that still exist in some countries. He had to resign from a minister in the Norwegian government when just four months was his job. A article talks about his career [fr]:

Originaire de l'Ile de la Martinique, à 44 ans, Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen is a post obtenu de l'Enfance et minister of au sein du gouvernement Parita of center-gauche NORVEGIA 18 octobre 2007 will [...] Elle est Bride Terje Osmundsen avec, un homme du parti politique conservateur NORVEGIA membre. Après is mariage, elle to the nationalité pris à celle renoncé norvégienne et de la France. He pays the double nationalité n'autorisant pas.

Born in Martinique, Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen, 44, won his post as Minister of Children and Equality in the Norwegian government's center-left on October 18, 2007 [...] is married to Terje Osmundsen, a politician and member of the party Norwegian conservative. After his marriage took Norwegian citizenship and renounced his French citizenship, as this country is not allowed to have dual citizenship.

In a 2008 interview with Patrick Karam Web page explains [fr] some things that played to his advantage to be chosen and why he resigned following the controversy over an alleged conflict of interest when hiring a staff member may be appointed:

In Norvège, il ya des deux représentation obligation of Sexes dans les conseils d'administration, 40% of femmes au minimum. Nous joins menons politique aussi pour prendre à inciter les hommes dans le plus foyer responsabilité pour les femmes entreprendre laisser professionnellement. J'ai aussi sur l'Enfance travaille in danger, I violences, I maltraitances ... J'ai quatre mois sans être travaille critiquée, joins C'était réussie expérience. They criticize the nomination avec sont venues d'une bisectors. Avec du recoil, tout le monde c'est voit that binds bagatelle. Cd J'ai de la presse au pouvoir.

In Norway, there should be parity of representation between the sexes in the boards, with a minimum of 40% women. We are also pursuing a policy that encourages men to take more responsibilities in the home for women to be able to pursue a career. I have also worked against child abuse, violence, abuse ... I've worked for four months without any criticism and was very successful. The criticism began with the appointment of an ombudsman for children. Everyone can see in retrospect that was something that came out of nowhere. I gave up before the power of the media.


Nyamko Sabuni

Nyamko Sabuni, Wikipedia (CC-BY-SA)

Nyamko Sabuni , originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a former minister of Sweden. Born in Burundi in 1969, his father had to flee the country because he was being pursued. She was elected to parliament in 2002, and 37 years was minister of the Swedish government from 2006 to 2010. An article in shows [fr] progress.

In 1981, à l'âge of 12 ans, elle est avec sa arrivée in Suède mère et ses trois freres et cinq sœurs. Là, elle a retrouvé are père, a politique opposant emprisonné plusieurs fois au Congo (République Démocratique du Congo actuellement), venu dans le pays grâce à Nordique Amnesty International.

In 1981, when he was 12, came to Sweden with her mother and three of his brothers and sisters. He met with his father, an opposition politician who had been jailed several times in the Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo), and had come to the Nordic country with the help of Amnesty International.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wikipedia (public domain)

The blog Hirsiali us [fr] the profile of Ayaan Hirsi Ali :

Née in Somalia in 1969, à l'âge excisée of 5 ans, Ayaan Hirsi Ali scolarisée est dans pour filles Muslim lycée. SES parents Soumises, et à à sa clan are jusqu'à l'âge religion vingt-trois ans, elle profit d'un dans sa famille passage in Allemagne, et s'enfuir pour mariage à echappe force. Réfugiée aux Pays-Bas, elle of Values ​​adopted Western liberal point of becoming au députée à une jeune et de La Haye Athée s'affirmer. Pour avoir dans les services sociaux travaille du Royaume, connait elle, l'intérieur, I tolerate horreurs I found l'au nom du des femmes multiculturalism.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, born in Somalia in 1969 and circumcised at age 5, went to a Muslim school girls. Subjugated by his parents, his clan and religion until age 23, took advantage of a trip to visit his family in Germany to flee and escape from a forced marriage. Taking refuge in Holland, adopted Western liberal values ​​to the point of becoming a young member of parliament in The Hague and declared atheist. Having worked in social services in the country knows, firsthand, the horrors that are tolerated against women in the name of multiculturalism.

A fierce opponent of some aspects of Islam and African traditions that go against human rights, founded an NGO that sets out its plans [in], on its website Ayaan Hirsiali as follows:

In response to the current abuses of the rights of women, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and his followers established the AHA Foundation in 2007 to help protect and defend the rights of women in the West of oppression justified by religion and culture.


The first black person to be elected to the Italian parliament was Mercedes Lourdes Frias [fr] of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. This is how it is described [in] in the Black Women in Europe blog:

Mercedes Lourdes Frias was born in the Dominican Republic. It was the first black person to be elected to the Italian parliament in 2006, where he served until April 2008. He was a member of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Parliamentary Committee for Implementing the Schengen Agreement Control and Surveillance and Control of Immigration. Work on anti-racist activities and welcoming to immigrants. From 1994 to 1997 he was a member of the Council of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy. Frias took the post of minister of environment, citizenship rights and equal opportunities in the town of Empoli.

The most striking of black women who have been elected by popular vote or appointed to a position of high responsibility in Europe Maria Sandra (Sandy) Cane, elected in 2009 on the agenda of the Northern League, the political party racist and xenophobic of Italy. One goal of the game is the secession of northern parts of the peninsula (although the border is not well defined) and that party leaders do not like southern Italians.

The blog (foreigners in Italy) gives [it] a brief overview of his career:

Di colore Il Sindaco cousin in Italy has the green Camicia. Maria Sandra (Sandy) if E aggiudicata Cane with 38 Votes appena fascia di scarto Viggiù tricolor, cinquemila anime in Valceresio, work Varesotto and Canton Ticino. Alle sue Spall, a storia di migrazioni lunga. Di Viggiù was originally the maternal famiglia neosindaco, Scalpellini emigrati in France during the Second War dove arrival mondiale il father, an African American statunitense soldato. È Il Sindaco neo cream in Springfield, Massachusetts nel, nel 1961, to sixteen anni ma, dopo the genitori dei separazione has Seguito nel mother paesino d'origine.

The first mayor of color of Italy has a green shirt [the color of the followers of the Northern League]. Maria Sandra (Sandy) got Cane tricolor scarf Viggiù the Mayor of a town of 5,000 inhabitants in the region Valceresio between the city of Varese and the Canton Ticino, with a margin of just 38 votes.
A past with a long history of immigration. The family of the new mayor by his mother were masons, Viggiù original, who emigrated to France. During the Second World War, his father, a black U.S. soldier, arrived in France. The new mayor was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1961, but 10 years after separation from their parents followed her mother back to her hometown. According to the blog, this is how she found herself [it] in politics, with an ideological platform a bit unusual:

Semper sono stata della Lega sostenitrice, mai anche vera is militant. Quando ero morivo ragazza dal loro Rider Manifesti vedere i, e di forte Impatto curiosity. Poi quindici anni fa più or meno, my sono più di avvicinata. [...] Vedo eat "molto American 'anche the Lega per la richiesta legge di rispettare rigorously, anche per i clandestini. Anche is to Viggiù, accurate, non ci sono di integrazione Problemi, nè tantomeno di sicurezza. Tra le priority, keep the tourist rilancio paese with attenzione manifestazioni and beyond culture.

I have always supported the Northern League without being very active. When I was little I used their posters to make people laugh, they were very curious and produced a great impact. Later, as 15 years ago, I got involved a little more. [...] I see it "very American", even the Northern League, because they insist on a strict respect for the law, even for illegal immigrants. Even so, it highlights that there is no integration problems and still no security in Viggiù. One of his priorities is to bring back tourism to the area through events and more attention to culture.

Despite the sharp process on the inclusion of African women in European politics, these women represent isolated cases, beyond the difficulties they have faced because of racism or culture and religion, even their own families and their own societies, have also been faced with challenges that face all women in the world [fr]: gender violence, the challenge of carrying children, marginalization and lack of political representation.

Written by Abdoulaye Bah · Translate by Ana Domínguez Rodríguez · View original post [fr] · Comments (1)
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