Blog: Being a migrant woman is a roller coaster of feelings: from the desire to belong to the awesomeness of sticking out

March 7, 2024
Woman with Hijab and glasses sitting at cafe

Blog by Tahereh Fardin Tabrizi

I began my migration journey as a kid back in 1997, when my Persian parents decided to migrate to the beautiful African continent. We made South Africa our home, and many years later it was my turn to decide to move to greener pastures of Ireland to join my husband who had just gotten a job here. I came with a bag full of hopes, plans and, of course, spices. 

As a migrant woman who has lived in a few countries and has been exposed to many different languages and cultures, my “normal day” consists of cooking an Irish breakfast, a Persian lunch and a South African dinner. Spotify has a very hard time understanding which songs it shall suggest next, and I have had to be translator and interpreter for innumerable official letters for my family and clients. 

I think in one language, write and speak in another and, often, read in a third one. My adolescence was a multicultural roller coaster, balancing between the desire to belong and the awesomeness of sticking out, and it is not much different now in my adulthood.

My migration journey and my passion for the legal field led me to where I am now, working for a human rights organisation that supports and assists migrants, from learning English to applying for a job. In my current role as the project coordinator for the Gateway to Employment project at Doras, my mission is to establish a community that supports, scales up, and inspires migrants across Ireland to pursue their professional aspirations. We are committed to providing resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities that enable migrants to overcome barriers and achieve their dreams.  

Being a woman, a mother and having a migrant background, with everything it entails, is a marathon. I often have to prove my worth on a daily basis. I have faced non-supportive views and even discrimination because of my appearance, especially with the Hijab. I have found that I can overcome all this by improving and using my skills and being well educated.  

It is crucial to be involved in decision-making that affects migrant women in Ireland. As long as western culture is the standard upon which everything else is measured, migrants will feel that they are lacking something. This is one of the reasons why some of us find it hard to appreciate our own cultures and practices. It takes a long journey of self-discovering to change this, but it is not impossible.  

This month, which is dedicated to all the amazing women around the world, to the mothers in Ireland, and also a month to combat racism, I would like to encourage migrant women to celebrate their migration journeys.

Let’s celebrate our identities, our stories of courage, hope and resilience. Let’s try to look beyond the stigmatisation that is often placed on us as migrant women and rather focus on our distinctiveness.  

The campaign theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Inspire Inclusion”, which is exactly what I aim for migrant woman to achieve. When we inspire others to understand and value migrant women’s contribution, we forge a better world. And when women themselves feel inspired to be part of their new communities, there’s a sense of belonging, relevance and empowerment.