Stories / Histoires / Verhalen

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We come from the four corners of Brussels, our parents from the four corners of the world. We live and work in different spaces, but we have come together united by our love of Brussels, our belief in citizen’s active participation and our belief that women can build bridges.

Active in different work for women’s rights, social and democratic justice in Brussels, in Belgium in Europe and the World, we found ourselves wondering how we could bring this energy together to build an innovative space for the phenomenal women of Brussels to come together to celebrate the city and build a more sustainable and cohesive city of the future.

We tell the different paths that brought us to this collective action below. These are just some of the many stories and paths that we hope others will bring into the future of W100 too.

We met as a group of 12 women back in May 2018 at the EL Dar house in Molenbeek. Loredana our host and founder of Dar al Amal (House of Hope, the women's work of Foyer) in Brussels ensured a steady supply of wisdom, mint tea and Moroccan biscuits. We spoke and laughed and discussed in many languages, trying to work out what it is that we shared, what was the common thread of our dream. Trying to find a common voice, a common language, a common path for action.

What we came up with after a few Saturday mornings in Molenbeek is what has become W100.

We built a common charter of principles and values. We brought a deep conviction of the importance of diversity and a commitment to inclusion. We understood that women were at the heart of our project, and that we wanted to create a space for women from all parts of Brussels to meet and discuss and build a common understanding. A common vision for our city.

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We brought our different skills and networks into our reflection and action: planning, facilitating, fundraising, logistics, research, media, web design, graphic design, leadership in its many forms. A collective of leadership, sisterhood and teamwork has been built over weekly Saturday morning meetings in Molenbeek preparing for this day and for the future that we hope will open up to not just ten or one hundred but one thousand women and beyond.

Joanna, Tanja & Rozina

The first time Joanna, Tanja and Rozina met together was at special meeting of the 'Burger Cabinet’ for international Brussels residents held in 2017 in Brussels. Organized by the Flemish Ministry of Youth, Media and Culture.

The idea of the meeting was to get perspectives from Brussels international community to complement a process that already consulted with the francophone and nederlandstalig Brussels communities. Bringing these 40 people together to discuss the challenges and solutions in a participatory manner stimulated many creative initiatives. The diverse mix of nationalities and experiences led to many ideas to build more bridges between the international community and the “local” Belgian population: though it was quickly evident that these descriptions were also misleading and over simplified. Some of the international participants had been living in Belgium for more than 20 years and had taken Belgian citizenship, and/or had Belgian partners and children; other Belgian citizens had moved from elsewhere in Belgium to Brussels more recently.

A few interesting projects were presented including those of Joanna, Tanja and Rozina. Projects suggestions of a 'Citizens Parliament' to the 'Women Building Bridges', the first planting of the seed of our Women 100 project.

The three active women stayed in touch and connected with via the many dynamic citizen led initiatives throughout Brussels. Including the 'LOBAW - League of Badass Women of Brussels'. Along with other cultural, women orientated events and conferences in Brussels that they either organized or participated in over the last years. Such as the intimate ‘Women in Brussels’ discussions and a female led dance event. Bringing a cross cultural Indian/Flamenco dance fusion and a opera and chocolate dynamic event together, as part of the Hospitality Festival that Rozina and Tanja organized and participated in together.

Realizing their innate desire to create a more inclusive, participatory, female-led and diverse Brussels, through connecting people, it was natural for them to come together for W100.

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Loredana - Brussels in Dialogue

Brussels in Dialogue traces its origins back to Dialogue Day, which has been organized by Foyer since 2007, inspired by a Dutch initiative. With Brussels in Dialogue, Foyer and several partner organizations want to bring people from various backgrounds together for a unique encounter.

At different sites across the city, diverse groups of 6-10 people gathers around a table to share experiences and thoughts relating to a specific theme. A trained dialogue facilitator breaks the ice and ensures that the conversation runs smoothly. Getting to know one another, listening, sharing dreams and thinking about concrete actions are central to the dialogue. Thus, Brussels in Dialogue  wants to stimulate active citizenship and meetings between a wide variety of people.

The very first Dialogue Day was held in Rotterdam in 2001, just after the terror of 9/11 in New York, and that was no coincidence. In order to bring individuals and communities closer together, a group of people wanted to foster social cohesion in Dutch society. Dialogue revealed itself to be the tool of choice: whereas discussion and debate tend to have a polarizing effect, dialogue and a willingness to listen contribute to true mutual understanding. Foyer wants to do the same thing in Brussels: bring people together to talk with one another in a constructive way – to build this city on dialogue.

Bruxelles en Dialogue

Bruxelles en Dialogue a ses origines dans la Journée du Dialogue, organisée depuis 2007 par Foyer, inspiré d’une initiative hollandaise. Par l’action Bruxelles en Dialogue, l’asbl Foyer, de concert avec des dizaines d’organisations partenaires, veut ressembler autour d’une table des personnes issues d’horizons très divers.

Tous les Bruxellois peuvent se joindre à une table composée de 6 à 10 personnes de différentes origines pour vivre des échanges sur un thème concret.  Un accompagnateur de dialogue brise la glace et veille à une bonne conversation. Se rencontrer, partager des expériences, s’écouter, rêver et penser à des actions concrètes sont des axes centraux. Bruxelles en Dialogue veut promouvoir une participation citoyenne active et stimuler la rencontre dans un contexte de diversité.  

La première Journée de Dialogue a eu lieu en 2001 à Rotterdam, suite à la tragédie du 11 septembre à New York. Pour rassembler des communautés et des individus, on voulait  stimuler la cohésion sociale. Et le dialogue s’est révélé comme la méthode active de travail idéale: là où le débat et la discussion polarisent la société, le dialogue invite à l’écoute pour une meilleure compréhension mutuelle. L’asbl Foyer veut faire la même chose à Bruxelles : au-delà des frontières culturelles, religieuses, d'âge et de sexe, créer des espaces pour écouter les récits et les rêves d’autrui.

Brussel in Dialoog

Brussel in Dialoog is ontstaan uit de Dag van de Dialoog die sinds 2007 door Foyer werd georganiseerd, in navolging van een Nederlands initiatief. Met Brussel in Dialoog wil Foyer, in samenwerking met partnerorganisaties, mensen rond de tafel brengen voor een bijzondere uitwisseling.
Op verschillende plaatsen in de stad  komen 6 à 10 mensen van verschillende horizonten ervaringen delen rond een vooraf bepaald thema. Een dialoogbegeleider breekt het ijs en zorgt voor een goed verloop van de dialoog. Kennismaken, ideeën en dromen delen, luisteren naar de andere en nadenken over concrete acties staan daarbij centraal. Brussel in Dialoog wil actief burgerschap en ontmoeting stimuleren in een context van diversiteit.

De eerste Dag van de Dialoog werd in 2001 in Rotterdam georganiseerd. Niet toevallig net na de terreur van Nine Eleven in New York. Om gemeenschappen en mensen dichter bij elkaar te brengen, wou men werk maken van meer sociale cohesie. Daarbij bleek de dialoog als actieve werkvorm ideaal: waar debat en discussie de maatschappij polariseren, zorgen dialoog en luisterbereidheid voor meer onderling begrip. Foyer wil hetzelfde doen in Brussel: waar mensen vooral het eigen gelijk najagen, willen we stedelingen met elkaar laten praten, van mens tot mens.