Helping Immigrant Women Overcome Employment Barriers
While the road to successful integration for many immigrants is challenging, it can be a particularly difficult journey for immigrant women.
According to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, immigrant women are much less likely to find employment than their male counterparts. And even those who do are almost certain to earn less than male immigrants.
Ingrid Argyle, the managing director at Ottawa Employment Hub, and Hindia Mohamoud, director of the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP), are trying to create a better understanding of the problem and what can be done about it. Together, the two organizations are leveraging the expertise of academic researchers and partner organizations to create a nuanced understanding of the labour market experience of newcomers, with attention to the intersection of gender, race, and immigration status.
“We know, for example, that immigrant women, the large majority of whom are racialized, face intersecting barriers to employment, such as access to childcare, discrimination, lack of recognition of experience and credentials acquired outside of Canada, and isolation from professional networks,” says Argyle. “This goes beyond commonly cited language barriers, and the result—as shown by the data—is a lower labour force participation rate and higher unemployment rate compared to both Canadian-born women and immigrant men.”
“It is important to create targeted strategies that remove the specific barriers, facing immigrant women, while at the same time addressing bias and discrimination in hiring and workplace receptivity. Creating these solutions will require new capacities and concerted collaborative planning by multiple stakeholders,” says Mohamoud.
The good news is that many local organizations— employment service providers, business associations, immigrant and refugee settlement agencies, colleges and universities, municipal, health and social service and other organizations—partner with both Ottawa Employment Hub and the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership. Together, these groups are identifying and generating opportunities for immigrant women, addressing barriers to immigrant women’s employment, and connecting immigrant talent with employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
Local employers can broaden their search for talent by reaching out to these organizations. A great place to start is Hire Immigrants Ottawa, an initiative to enhance employers’ ability to access the talents of skilled immigrants in the Ottawa area.