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We can do it - tips for migrants and locals

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Brid Connolly

Dr Brid Connolly
Practitioner Best Practice, Maynooth University/Ireland
“Feminist pedagogy and emancipation for women migrants”



I have worked in adult and community education for over thirty years. I have learned so much through this work, with groups of people who could enrich society to an immeasurable extent, yet who are quite often seen as marginal and problematic. These included unemployed people, women, young school leavers, people caught up in addiction, people caught up in crime. Currently, I work in Maynooth University, a small university 30 k outside of Dublin, mainly on critically reflexive post-graduate programmes.



One of the most difficult issues that front line workers encounter in Ireland is the issue of domestic violence in the lives of many women migrants. This is a hidden aspect of the movement of people out of troubled areas and into refuge in Western countries. On the surface, adult education has responded to the refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants with basic education, particularly language teaching. But underneath, we respond to what the group really needs, and these needs are myriad and diverse. Many women need to tell their stories. Feminist pedagogy intentionally listens to the voices of the learners and creates the learning environment that is safe and empowering.

This paper will draw on research that has been gathered by feminist agencies, including Women’s Aid, the Rape Crisis network and other women’s groups. I will argue that language teachers, adult basic educators and community educators need to develop their attitudes and skills through exposure and engagement with feminist pedagogy. This is essential in order to create learning environments that acknowledges the issue of domestic violence; practitioners need to underpin their practice with the emphasis on the contention that women’s rights are human rights and finally, they need to raise the awareness of the participants about the supports that are available in the community.


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