Amarpreet, a candidate with a mission
Tell us about yourself and your challenges in growing up as an immigrant child.
I have lived in Finland for 25 years, and my roots are from India. I have been studying there in India in primary school, and then suddenly we moved here. I continued to primary school in Finland. I advanced my way to merkonomi, a vocational degree for business.
Learning the Finnish language was one of the most significant challenges for me as an immigrant child. I was in Hollola, and when I went to school there, there weren't any immigrant children like me. Everyone else spoke in Finnish, and no one spoke English, so it was challenging for me to adjust to school.
The second was the weather. It was just too cold. The third challenge was getting friends because, at that time, there weren't many immigrant families. Around us were Finnish people, and it wasn't easy to get friends and start speaking Finnish. So, these were my challenges as an immigrant child growing up in Finland.
Language and education
I was in the sixth grade, and it took me two years to speak Finnish. In secondary school (ylä-aste), I wanted to further my education, but my teacher said that my Finnish language is not strong enough, so I do not have any chance to go to high school (lukio). At that time, I was alone because I was separated from my parents. No one was there to give me the correct information on how I should further my studies. If I knew, I could continue to the 10th grade after the 9th grade to raise my grades. I might have had the chance to go to high school (lukio).
They offered me a nursing degree in a vocational school, and I went there for a year, but I realized that it was not for me. I wanted to study business administration which is called merkonomi. After I graduated as merkonomi, I started to further my studies with diplomas. Someday, I will finish my master's.
What kind of work are you doing at the moment?
At the moment I'm in primary school as a secretary. I am an entrepreneur in the restaurant sector and I also work as an interpreter.
What are your challenges as an entrepreneur?
Ten years ago, entrepreneurs were helped. It was a lot easier because everyone was interested in developing the infrastructures, but nowadays, it's harder to execute and develop your ideas. It seems like those ideas should already be fantastic and perfect before it is approved. It is one reason why SME entrepreneurs are suffering because entrepreneurs cannot develop themselves in any direction, especially foreign entrepreneurs.
So why did you choose the feminist party?
My colleagues and friends encouraged me to raise my voice for the ladies. As an interpreter, I saw that many immigrants, especially new immigrants who are suffering. These immigrants are not getting the right directions; they're not getting the correct information from anywhere. They are not helped, and I witness a lot of violence and discrimination.
I am ready to get to a place and raise my voice to bring out my ideas and help those who do not have a voice to be heard and get things forward.
As a private person, it's hard to bring things forward alone. In a group, I can help and impact that things can move forward. It is why I am in the feminist party.
I spoke with representatives in the party, and they have the same goal as I to bring the voices of immigrants to the government and help them see how to develop and create services that will help immigrants.
What are concrete ideas and developments are you driving as a candidate?
I have worked In Migri as an interpreter, so I'd like to state my opinion that Migri should have a more human approach to the people being interviewed and genuinely understand why these immigrants want to leave their country. No one wants to leave their home country behind, but there is more to it than black and white or straightforward answers. The Migri in Finland should understand that it is not only war that is why people leave their country behind. Many other things make people suffer, but the people in Migri do not understand or want to understand it. They do not think with thoughts and hearts but only facts.
Finland does not have current information about the conflicts in other countries. Suffering does not need worldwide media coverage or a global event. Some countries are in conflict and unsafe, but there is no news coverage in media outlets in Finland. As foreigners living, we need to find information from media outlets outside Finland. There might only be one reporter that is the respondent in that particular country. As I know, at the moment, there is one of the world's largest protests in India, but we can only see the news on social media or global media outlets.
Uniting Family Members
A person has got a residence permit in Finland, but his family has stayed there, and he wants to unite his own family here to a safe place. There might have been reasons why the whole family can't get there at the same time. I don't understand why it is required to have a high salary to bring your wife and family. A person who is working in the service sector is required over 2000€/ monthly pay. Most Finnish families do not have that high salary, so why must foreigners who work in ordinary jobs need to have a higher income to be united with their family. I believe that families should be treated equally no matter the occupation. Families should also have the right to live together.
Immigrant families that have to deal with violence within the family are not taken seriously. You, a victim, must prove everything in black and white. Their culture is not understood in Finland, so immigrants, especially women, suffer the most. Cultures should be open because all cultures are different. Finland has a different culture than someone from Asia. Suppose a woman says something has been done to but cannot bring the evidence. She should be believed or try to understand her position from her cultural perspective. The attitude should not be that we do not want to talk about that culture because we have not lived in that culture. It is one of the biggest challenges foreign women face because women are silenced in some cultures. These women are told all their life to be silent no matter what, and they should endure everything. It is very different if you are encouraged to speak all your life than someone who has been discouraged from speaking out. There is a considerable gap in understanding these cultures, so developing the openness of these cultures is a huge thing.
I have experienced workplace discrimination. At first, everything seems fine, but then afterward, talks and complaints were made behind my back even though I was working as hard as possible and got things done. They said that I did not work, I am not good enough, and I am not skilled even though I worked and try to learn everything as fast and possible. Some people say that I had worked overtime many times. When these complainers realized that I am not a Native Finn, they start assuming that this job is not for me and it is complicated for me, and I should go elsewhere. They started inquiring about my background, where I am from, and why I am in Finland. Would I go back to my country someday, and if I would go back to my country, what will I do there and get this opportunity to work there, or will I stay in Finland as a home mom.
I finally moved to another job, but workplace bullying and discrimination give you a lesson that as a foreigner, you need to be tough, endure, and somehow move forward because, in the end, you are entirely alone in dealing with these experiences.
These are some of my elections themes equality and discrimination. I want to help immigrants, especially young women who have to live in different cultures and are discriminated against because of how they look or because of the style of their clothes. With them, I'd like to stand and be by their side.
Name: Amarpreet Kaur-Singh
Party: Feministinen Puolue