The resettlement experiences of Oromo women who entered Canada as refugees

AUTHORS    Biftu Yousuf and Nicole Berry

LOCATION   National


A growing body of literature shows that gender-based experiences produce different circumstances for men and women who become refugees and thereafter. This article sought to contribute to this literature by investigating the challenges faced by Oromo women who have immigrated to Canada as refugees. Toward this end, the authors interviewed six Oromo women in Western Canada regarding what led them to leave Ethiopia, their experiences as refugees seeking asylum, and their struggles with resettlement and integration. The findings reveal that Oromo women share the challenges endured by their male counterparts, but also are victim of gender-based subjugation at each stage of emigration.

How does this research apply to my work?

As a service provider, it is important to be aware of the way in which gender influences unique needs and how the system in Canada remarginalizes refugee women. Applying an intersectional approach to service delivery is paramount in understanding refugee women’s experiences and how life-long gender dynamics play out.

What should I take away from this research?

Counter to studies that imply women become enfranchised after resettlement, the findings in this study suggest that the intersections between national origin, gender, and social class create conditions that set up refugee women to have limited opportunities for upward mobility. This hardship can be correlated to feelings of distress throughout different phases of the migration journey.

What’s the next step?

Future studies should investigate the prospects for upward mobility among children of former refugee women. What implications do the realities of former refugee women have on second- and third-generation immigrants? Are the experiences transposed onto the children of former refugees, who then internalize them and transpose them again onto their children? This may explain some of the difficulties plaguing young African immigrants living in Canada. Finally, there has to be a better way for former refugees to attain upward mobility.

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