Sharing knowledge with migrant mothers

Ozge Bilgili

Being a mother in a country that is not your own can be tough. Özge Bilgili, an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences who has recently found herself in this situation, is working on a project that helps migrant mothers settle into their new role. The project is being funded by a grant from the Public Engagement Seed Fund.

What happens at the mother and baby clinic (‘consultatiebureau’)? How should I raise my child, and how do other people raise their children? How do I approach multilingualism in my family? As Özge Bilgili knows only too well, these are questions that women who haven’t lived in the Netherlands for very long find difficult when they have a baby. 'In the Netherlands, the care available for children and mothers is organised differently to the way it’s organised in many other countries. And then there are all the emotions that go with having a baby. Migrant mothers with a baby often feel isolated and lacking in social support. They are in a new country and they often have their baby without their family around them. They want to stay in touch with their family in their country of origin and, at the same time, the arrival of a baby affects this relationship.'

Series of discussions

Özge heard about an initiative of the Utrecht-based social workers/discussion leaders Najuan Daadleh-Terpstra and Mieka Vroom called Parenting Across Borders. 'Najuan wanted to organise a series of discussions with women who hadn’t lived here for very long with a child under the age of one. I thought it was a great idea. Firstly, it fits perfectly with my research interests - I conduct research into diversity and integration. Also, I myself have a young child and, as a Turk who hasn’t been living in the Netherlands for very long, I very much identify with these issues. Plus, as a faculty, we have a great deal of expertise, which we could use to help these migrant women.'

Public Engagement Seed Fund

So, Özge submitted a grant application to the Public Engagement Seed Fund for a new series of discussions entitled Mothering Across Borders. 'The application was accepted. We were awarded a grant of €2,000, which we used to organise a series of group discussions in a community centre.' Özge herself works tirelessly on this fine example of public engagement, as do a number of other academics from FSBS. 'We organise six two-weekly meetings on a specific theme. For each theme, we have in-house expertise. Knowledge in the field of parenting styles, work-life balance or bilingualism, for example. The women can share experiences and talk to the expert.'


The Mothering Across Borders talks start on 16 February 2020. Women who were born outside the Netherlands, who have not been living in the Netherlands for long and who have recently had a baby can still apply to attend.