Crossings: Journal of Migration & Culture. Special Issue

WOMEN’S HEALTH AND DIGITALISATION IN FORCED MIGRATION. Digital Solutions to promote Intercultural Mobility in access to SRH services in Europe

Editor: Dr. Nena MOCNIK, GRITIM Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain

Abstracts by 15th March 2023

In the last ten years, experts from academia, think tanks and civil society have engaged with the topic of linking technology and human rights, recognizing the importance of new policies and advocacy that would push governments to provide all communities with the access to the internet and devices in an increasingly digital, automated world. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development states that despite the risks of facilitating the control, dominion and marginalization, the spread of information and communications technology and global interconnectedness has great potential to accelerate human progress.

In the context of mass migration to Europe in 2015–2016, researchers have provided rich evidence for how mobile internet devices have played an essential support role in planning, navigating and documenting the journeys and enabling regular contact with family, friends, and others who help the refugees. In the current refugee crisis as the consequences of the war in Ukraine, interconnectedness and digital technologies have played an essential role in humanitarian interventions and public response since the beginning of the conflict.

However, while popularization of smartphones and social media have revolutionized migration in general, UNCHR have reported the unproportionally higher use of digital technologies among male refugees, deepening the existing gender gap and thus leaving female refugees deprivileged in accessing any type of service and information, and particularly those related to sexual and reproductive health (SRH). Closing the mobile gender gap is proven to   positively impact the quality of refugee women’s day-to-day life, from generating a livelihood through a small business to sharing important information about the camps and exchanging goods and mutual emotional support. When it comes to women's health, the usual obstacles, like poor infrastructure (internet connection, autonomous use of digital tools, insufficient digital literacy), are being further exacerbated by social control, and culturally facilitated ideas and practices related to gender and sexuality.

Thus, topics related to SRH are often stigmatized or subjected to rigid cultural taboos that prevent women from getting sufficient information and safe approach toward needed services. The urgent need is no longer in creating new online tools or content, but more in facilitating the intercultural mobility from the country of origin to Europe, where SRH knowledge and information might be accessible online without putting refugee women at further risk. By physical relocation, individuals undergo also a process of sexual resocialization, where they learn anew about dynamics between sexes, and cultural understandings of desires, roles, and practices. But by adopting a culturally sensitive approach, many services provided in the European Union, further construct race and culture as taken for granted categories to locate non-European women as essentialized, inferior and subordinate Others. These patterns influence understanding of sexual/reproductive health and rights related to it in a country of resettlement. In the Special Call we invite authors to reflect on those topics from theoretical and practical perspective, and to address questions of universal human (reproductive) rights, cultural relativism, transcultural and transnormative mobility, and neocolonial discursive practice surrounding some of the most controversial, culturally relative sexual behaviors, taboos and stigmas, like war rapes, female genital mutilations and child marriages.

Topics considered for publication may include, but are not limited to the questions as:

·     the role of online peer-to-peer in enhancing digitalisation of digitally illiterate individuals;

·     the importance of cultural communities to facilitate behavioral changes in cultural mobility of SRH understanding (use of contraception tools, right to abortion, prevention and treatment of STDs.

The papers can furthermore showcase good practices as well as shortfalls that describe:

·     inaccessibility of devices and tools and marginalized communities;

·     processes, tactics, strategies that bring technologies closer to the targeted groups;

·     actions, projects activities that promote behavioral changes and cultural mobilities with the help of digital solutions/tools;

·     dialogues between initiators, developers and target communities.

Key Words: women’s health, refugee women, migrant women, digital solutions, cultural barriers

The above list of topics is not exhaustive, and the editorial board will consider other topics related to the main themes of this special issue. We also welcome book reviews addressing the topics and themes illustrated above. Prospective contributors should contact the editor to discuss their proposals in the form of a maximum 250 words abstract along with a brief biography via email to Nena Mocnik by 15 March 2023.

Contact Info: 


Nena Mocnik, PhD, is a Maria Skłodowska Curie EUTOPIA-SIF COFUND Research Fellow at GRITIM-UPF (Interdisciplinary Research Group on Immigration at the Department of Political and Social Sciences at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Catalonia). As a researcher, educator and community worker, she is interested in the topics of collective traumas, identity (gender) violence, and art-based sociotherapy. In her current participatory action research, she explores the rapidly expanding internet and digital realms to offer solutions in reproductive health-related knowledge and community support to refugee mothers in displacement. She is the author of two monographs (Trauma Transmission and Sexual Violence: Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Settings, 2021) and her first book "Sexuality after War Rape: From Narrative to Embodied Research" (Routledge 2017) was awarded Bank of Montreal Award in Women's Studies (University of Ottawa, 2018). She acted as an editor in chief at several special issues, edited monographs and textbook editions and as a consultant and coordinator at European projects and was first 2022 Digital Humanism Fellow awarded by Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action and IWM Vienna.