Ghanaian migrants, civic participation and inclusion in Finland

Attention on migrant inclusion is increasing at various levels in Finland and other European countries.

Participation occurs at many different levels—social, economic, political, etc.

Most migrants participate in social activities. Studies have also shown that most migrants are gainfully employed.

They may work either as paid workers or as self-employed entrepreneurs although they often have unstable or marginal positions in the Finnish labour market as cleaners, waitresses, and bouncers in pubs.

In electoral or voting participation of African migrants, for example, this has been quite low as compared with other groups in Finland. However, interest in participation is gradually increasing.  

Efforts for integration and inclusion

In Finland, a number of studies have examined migrants’ lives in general. In recent years, surveys and other research studies have focused on the integration of African migrants into the Finnish society.

As scholars of migration or Diaspora studies have pointed out, migrants live their lives simultaneously across different nation-states and cultures–being both ‘here’ and ‘there’ across geographical and political boundaries.

That is, migrants make efforts to integrate into the society they live in (here, in Finland), although they also try to portray the culture of their original countries (or regions).

Civic participation and migrant associations

Reports indicate that civic participation of migrants in Finland is generally considered to be low but it has been increasing over the years, especially from the 1990s onwards.

Cooperation projects and migrants’ participation in the planning of issues concerning migrants themselves are seen as one of the efficient ways to improve the inclusion of migrants in the Finnish society.

There are forms of civic participation at the municipality level.

At the same time, migrant associations and other organisations have also been engaging in activities to help migrants to integrate into the Finnish society. 

Interest in politics

The interest of African migrants in voting is increasing. Many of them are looking forward to voting in the upcoming municipal elections across the country next month.

Moreover, a number of migrants are standing as candidates in the Finnish municipal elections.

Actually, interest seems to be increasing among the main political parties in Finland to recruit migrant candidates. There are a number of African migrant candidates.

There are also a few Ghanaian migrant candidates seeking to be elected in next month’s municipal elections. This has even slightly increased compared with the picture in the 1990s.

This, undoubtedly, is a step forward. If it is a positive sign of integration and inclusion of Ghanaian/African migrants into the Finnish society, then that’s it. Thank you.  


With Dr Perpetual Crentsil

The writer is a lecturer at the University of Helsinki, Finland

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