Recently, I was contacted out of the blue by someone who had enjoyed and used the materials from our Co-Design Workshop article, and wanted to learn more. “We want to host some sessions of co-creation for different purposes. We would like to know more about techniques or tools we can use.”
Her name was Yolima, and she was part of a group called International Creative Women. We set up a time to have a video call. The call was incredible — a wonderful time to learn, not just about Yolima’s story, but also about the vision of her organization, and how co-creation can be used in their context.
Yolima is originally from Colombia, but “fell in love with a Dutch guy” and ended up moving to the Netherlands, to the city of Eindhoven — the country’s 5th largest municipality. Here she found herself in an a less-than-appealing situation: in a new place, needing to learn a new language, with unclear career prospects for herself.
It turns out, she wasn’t the only person having this experience. She was on the inside of the unnoticed fallout from Eindhoven’s boom, and it was a serious problem. Global companies headquartered in Eindhoven (like Philips, DAF and ASML) have attracted large amounts of international workers, who had relocated from places like India, Colombia and beyond — and they were mostly men. The result was that a great number of their partners, like Yolima, who had travelled with their spouses to come to the country, were finding themselves alienated.
The impact on the women was obvious: they were experiencing disconnection, depression and disempowerment. The impact on the companies was that their newly-relocated recruits weren’t staying long, choosing to turn around and leave the Netherlands to achieve healthier family balance. As Yolima felt the strain of this experience personally, she also saw the impact on her peers in the international community.