Women who fly with the SWANS

The organisation that helps disadvantaged women of talent access high-quality education to improve their chances of having a fulfilling career will use the prize money to reach out to more potentially high-flying women, says SWANS' Martha Dudzinski.

EESC Info: What does this prize mean for you and your organisation?

SWANS:  Having what we do recognised by such a prestigious award as the EESC Civil Society Prize sends an immensely valuable signal to all women from immigrant families, but particularly those who participate in our seminars, making them feel supported and valued and encouraging them to follow their chosen paths.

What advice would you give to other organisations in terms of achieving results with such activities and programs?

When it comes to contributing to civil society, true passion and motivation are the factors most crucial to success. You need to feel strongly about your cause, since - unlike in the private sector, for example - there are no other factors such as money that can drive you. The authenticity that comes with your belief in the cause will spread your enthusiasm and help you successfully pursue your goals.

How will you use this specific funding to provide further help in the community?

The prize money will enable us to organise additional seminars and maybe even a bigger networking event for the young women in our community to exchange ideas and experiences and bond and connect.

As an organisation working towards the integration of migrants, if you had a chance to enact one specific legal provision at European level, what would it be?

Numerous scientific studies clearly show that our current job markets positively discriminate white men at the expense of women, people of colour and other minorities. In order to remedy this situation and create an even playing field, legal measures can provide temporary support for this process. Blind application processes and quotas can force employers to make the effort to find the candidate who is genuinely the best qualified. They will learn how to attract and win over employees from diverse backgrounds whom they have so long ignored. However, these measures, along with positive discrimination, always face a legitimation issue: nobody wants to have their qualifications dismissed and be called a "quota woman/migrant/etc". But we can only overcome this mindset of accusing minorities of being unqualified if we start admitting that the current job market is not primarily based on qualification, but on the reproduction of existing white-male-dominated structures. The sooner employers decide to overcome their unconscious biases, the sooner everyone can believe that their hard work and qualifications will pay off.