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Think Africa Democracy Action Team

Think Africa Democracy Action Team strives to enhance knowledge and understanding of people with African descent regarding Finnish political and democratic systems and reveals the bottle necks hindering their participation and inclusion into Finnish society.

Kuva: Minna Hemmilä/Sitra

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Problem

For many of the 54 500 African immigrants, Finnish political system is unfamiliar and difficult to comprehend. The variety of challenges include political and social factors, resulting in low election turnout and being underrepresented in democratic activities.

Intervention

The current political ideologies and policies do not reflect the interests, needs and desires of African immigrants. Realizing the challenge posed by language barrier is as significant as the challenges to democratic participation and inclusion in society. The deficit of participatory democracy is intrinsically linked to the lack of information and understanding of the implications and importance of civic and political participation. The intervention focuses particularly in African students in Finland, as society is losing a wealth of benefits from the non-inclusion of students in integration plans.

This intervention endeavors to advocate for “best practice” policies that facilitate the inclusion and integration of African students in Finnish Society; explore practical solutions to language inclusion challenges, and to increase motivation of, awareness and interest for African immigrants and students as participants involved in political decision-making processes in Finnish Society.

A series of podcasts and vlogcasts are produced and used to create awareness on the democratic bottleneck issues faced by African immigrants, particularly students.

A #KnowYourRights information package for students is developed to ensure speedy inclusion and integration in Finnish Society.

Prior to last June municipal elections, TADAT conducted a poll to better understand the experiences of voting amongst Africans in Finland. An active follow up survey poll is currently being conducted to review the Participatory voting process of the last municipal elections of June 2021. The polls in question will help us understand certain behavioural patterns and practices as they relate to practices of voting and democratic participation of African immigrant students in Finland.

The results of our solution-oriented intervention is developed with intentions to benefit all immigrants; however specifically focused on Africans, who are often sidelined and excluded from political activities because of the language barriers. It is envisaged that the lessons acquired from this intervention will have a dual function of enlightening African Immigrants on the importance of Civic participation as well as ignite a robust advocacy to change the perception of Finnish society about African Immigrants.

Thus, beneficiaries of Think Africa Democracy Action Team´s experimental intervention are African immigrants and Finnish policy and decision making institutions.

Sitra Lab 3: Bottlenecks to democracy

Sitra Lab 3 is a training programme that seeks solutions for overcoming the bottlenecks that hinder democracy and social participation.

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