The Empowerment Circles Project, designed and carried out by Migrant Women Association Malta, is funded through the Voluntary Organisations Project Scheme managed by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector on behalf of the Ministry for Education and Employment. The core aim of the project is to support migrant women living in Malta to build their confidence, communication and social skills, as well as increase their employability.
The Empowerment Circles Project took the form of 32 weekly meetings, held between November 2018 and June 2019, where migrant women were invited to participate in group activities, such as crafts and yoga, discussions on the challenges of being a migrant woman in Malta, and information sessions on various topics such as employment, education and citizenship.Using a participatory research approach, one female researcher followed the women ́s journey and participated first-hand in the discussions and the activities. Furthermore, the data collection process included the conduction of a focus group, where the researcher’s preliminary results were discussed with the project beneficiaries.
This report presents the findings of the qualitative research conducted on the Empowerment Circles Project and represents an attempt to explore and better understand migrant women’s experiences of starting a new life in Malta and the perceived and concrete barriers to their integration. Although the women involved in the project were grateful to be in Malta, a country which they perceived as and safe, the data gathered reveals that life in Malta is riddled with obstacles and logistical barriers, negatively affecting the women ́s wellbeing and possibilities. In addition to difficulties arising from bureaucratic processes and procedures, the women face daily challenges such as discrimination and bullying on their children in school, incoherent school policies on religious matters, feelings of isolation and unemployment. Another major stress factor is the constant apprehension about their family’s and friends’ wellbeing back home.
Moreover, the research provides valuable information on migrant women’s multiple and overlapping identities, such as their national, religious, collective and maternal identity and how these identities can affect self-esteem, self-confidence/self-representation and sense of belonging to the host country.