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Côte d’Ivoire: Djamilla Touré, committed to the professional integration of women from the African diaspora

Since 2015, Djamilla Touré has dedicated herself to amplifying the voice of women from the African diaspora in Canada through her Sayaspora initiative. A platform that the Ivorian launched with four other young African women to advocate female solidarity and whose network currently has more than 19,000 people online.

It was between Côte d’Ivoire, Morocco and then Canada that Djamilla Touré spent her childhood, adolescence and adult life. Leaving Côte d’Ivoire, at the age of 7, due to the political-military crisis her country was undergoing, she moved to Morocco, precisely to Casablanca, with her family in 2002 where she pursued her secondary studies. A period during which she unfortunately faced acts of racism due to her origins and which marked her.

With her A-levels in economics, social studies and mathematics in hand, she decided to fly to Canada and joined the University of Québec in Montréal for a Bachelor’s degree in international relations and international law. While there, the young woman rubbed shoulders with the African diaspora and soon became president of the African students’ association.

Sayaspora, a medium to amplify the voices of women from the diaspora

In 2015, she joined forces with four other young women of African origin living in Canada and launched Sayaspora. Initially, it was a blog featuring articles, videos and podcasts highlighting the experiences of women of immigrant background and debating the image of African women…

In 2018, the young Ivorian entered the Canadian professional world. It was then that she noticed acts of discrimination. After talking to another woman, she realized that her case was not isolated. Many people from the African diaspora were subject to discrimination in access to employment, including the impossibility of negotiating salaries, remarks about their differences, and so on.

She then decided to add another string to Sayaspora’s bow, which is also geared towards combating discrimination in the workplace against jobseekers of African origin.

The platform thus initiated the “Build your way up” project, funded by the Canadian federal government, which aims to equip women from the diaspora to better navigate the Canadian job market through mentoring programs, communication campaigns and capacity-building workshops to help women enter the workforce despite discrimination. At the same time, it raises awareness among Canadian employers of the issues arising from systemic racism in the labour market. In 2022, the first “Build your way up” workshops succeeded in bringing together 150 people online.

Djamilla Touré is also a TedX speaker. At the professional level, she was program coordinator within the UNIS movement, project officer at Girls Action Foundation, project manager – economic empowerment of immigrant women within the L’Hirondelle association, as well as communications advisor at the Paul Gérin – Lajoie foundation.