LOCAL government in the Balearics is taking a serious stand against racism and anti-foreign sentiment in the Islands.
Margalida Ferrando, Social Services Deputy at Palma City Hall, and Santiago Pizarro, Education Promotion director on Ibiza, held a conference at the Flassaders Social Centre to promote “Project Equality”, a programme designed to combat the social and professional marginalisation of foreigners in the Balearics. Regional authorities want to make sure that outsiders coming to live and work in the Islands are given the same working conditions and equality of opportunity which have been available for people who have lived here all their lives. Special attention is to be paid to conditions under which women are employed to make sure their vulnerability is not exploited. “Project Equality” is to be up and running up until September 2007. Also at the conference were key local government figures from other parts of the Balearics and representatives of national, non-governmental organisations concerned with proper integration of foreign communities. The cost of administering and manning the project is set at 1.3 million euros, half of which is being funded by European Union Social financing. Another quarter is being provided by the central Spanish government ministry for Work and Social Affairs. The remainder has been budgeted from the local treasuries of Ibiza, sa Pobla, Inca, Palma and Porreres. Pizarro gave a high profile to the creation of an Intercultural and Job Finding support service (SAIIL) which will be staffed by specially trained mediators. A study is also planned to monitor the socioeconomic conditions under which immigrants live and work in different districts, leading to the creation of an agenda to help foreigners gain a fair foothold on the ladder to social and professional integration. Ferrando pointed out that throught the present term of office of local government, both the Social Services and Employment departments of Palma City Council have supported a number of projects to cushion the difficulties experienced by immigrants coming to the Islands for the first time. Such initiatives, Ferrando claimed, have been firmly rooted in the concept of equality of opportunity for men and women alike.
She drew attention to a scheme which was launched in August of last year entitled “Finding a Way to Live Together”, and thanked all those who had put in time and trouble to make it a success. Ferrando went on to confirm that the Social Services department was now also working on setting up a campaign for raising public-awareness through the media. The aim is to encourage widespread public participation in giving foreigners a fair chance in the Balearics.