This study seeks to answer the following questions:
- What are the differences between male and female employment rates for active GAR CSS clients?
- What are the barriers to employment for male and female active GAR CSS clients? How do they differ?
- Do GAR women experience unique/more barriers to employment than GAR men?
- How can CSS address any issues or unique barriers to employment for GAR women?
When fleeing persecution and war, living in refugee camps, and escaping conflict, Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) experience trauma in significant and multiple ways. While Canada is known as one of the most open and supportive countries for refugees in the world, refugees, and GARs in particular, still experience many challenges in their settlement and integration. As refugee women comprise almost half of the refugee population in Canada, special attention should be given to their needs (Awuah-Mensah, 2016). Women tend to experience unique barriers and challenges in their settlement process, linked to prior experiences of trauma and sexual violence, language barriers, limited literacy and work experience, lack of traditional support systems, childcare responsibilities, and cultural differences (SRDC, 2002). These barriers particularly influence women refugees’ access to employment and their income levels.
Client Support Services (CSS) and our partner service provider organizations work to provide GARs with client-led support and programming to help them gain independence as they learn to navigate their new communities. Through regular home visits and client needs assessments, community referrals, health services, and life-skills workshops and orientations, CSS applies an empowerment-based approach to refugee settlement. A large component of this involves helping clients to access employment and prepare for the job market in Canada. Due to the gendered nature of refugee settlement, it is important to examine the ways in which men and women GARs have barriers to or access employment differently. Highlighting these trends will then allow us to fill any gaps in services and make recommendations for future programming to improve both women and men GARs’ access to employment.