The Platform of Women of the Congolese Diaspora of Belgium is the first winner of the European Diaspora Prize awarded at the Annual Diaspora Forum of the Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies of the PACE. The Forum took place on 10 June 2019 in Istanbul, at the invitation of the Grand national Assembly of Turkey.
The Platform of Women of the Congolese Diaspora of Belgium embodies the core values of the Parliamentary Network on Diaspora Policies as a good example of a diaspora association which places equal value on engaging fully with the host country, while maintaining and fostering links with the country of origin.
This philosophy guides the work of the Platform. Suzanne Monkasa, who accepted the prize on behalf of the Platform, stated “we don’t live in a vacuum. We are open.”
Ms Monkasa demonstrated this openness and the potential for diaspora communities to embrace multiple identities and cultures when she presented the Platform’s book to the Forum. “The Women of the Congolese Diaspora in Belgium Speak Out” compiles stories and anecdotes from women of the Congolese diaspora in Belgium. The director of the publishing house, Chantiers d’Afrique, which produced the book, is herself a member of the Congolese diaspora in Belgium and the book is available in two official languages of their host country, Dutch and French.
Three diaspora associations were nominated for the Prize; British in Europe, the Ukrainian Society in Switzerland and the Platform of Women of the Congolese Diaspora of Belgium. All three nominees presented the work of their respective organisations before the Network voted to award the prize to the Platform of Women of the Congolese Diaspora of Belgium.
The European Diaspora Prize rewards the outstanding work of a diaspora association established in one of the Council of Europe member States in supporting the integration of diaspora members in host countries while promoting and fostering their cultural identity and maintaining links with countries of origin. The prize, a white marble statue, was designed by the Italian artist, Maestro Gualtieri Roberto, and donated by Andrea Rigoni, the first Coordinator of the Network.