"I am a free woman. I want to be Sophia, this is how I was born and who I want to be when I die. Sadly, this is also the reason why I had to leave my city in Yemen, where I was a working woman, driving my own car and who decided to divorce from her husband. Life in Yemen is not easy for an independent woman, and it became unbearable when I started receiving death threats.
I arrived in Italy in 2013, and as soon as I was granted with an international protection status, I started to look into validating my degree. An officer working at the C.A.P. (University Center for life-long learning) at the University of Bari, supported me throughout this process. Once my degree had been validated, I could also apply for a scholarship financed by the Italian Ministry of Interior to further my studies in intercultural communication.
Learning the language was the first step that allowed me to feel part of Italian society, and it surely is the first step that all migrants should undertake in their new country. Language is empowering because, just like a bridge, it connects you with the 'other'. Language makes you more independent, and it inevitably allows you to access the culture. You actually start understanding your rights, and also duties, in your host country.
Even if we might eventually go back, I think that, as refugees, we need to leave a positive mark on the country that hosts us. Women especially should not be intimidated or afraid to make choices and pursue their goals in life, although they feel they have the whole world against them. This is why I encourage women refugees to be supportive of other women and girls."