Help needed for immigrant women
By Sharon Gray
(L-R) Xiangrong Huang, Wanjiru Nderitu, Dr. Peruvemba Jaya and Dr. Marilyn
Porter. (Photo by Chris Hammond)
An action group should be established to improve conditions for immigrant women in the province, based on the research and suggestions in the report Recent Immigrant Women in Newfoundland and Labrador: Problems and Perspectives.
Establishing such an action group is the main recommendation of this report, prepared by Dr. Marilyn Porter, Sociology, Dr. Peruvemba Jaya, Business Administration, and graduate students Wanjiru Nderitu and Xiangrong Huang. Their research was funded by the Gender, Diversity and Migration/Immigrant Women Research Domain, one of eight research domains that make up the Atlantic Metropolis Centre of Excellence.
Because of limitations of time and money, fieldwork was carried out only in St. John’s. “While we feel that the information we were given is broadly typical of the experiences of immigrants to the province, there is no way it is definitive,” said Dr. Porter. “We need more opportunity to explore the relationship between the services, programs and information that is available and the understandings and experience of immigrant women.”
All four researchers are immigrants to the province from the U.K., India (via the U.S.), Kenya and China. They began by discussing their own experience and developed a reference group drawn from the community, government, non-governmental organizations and the university. Interviews were carried out with individuals and groups, with one focus group consisting of international women students and another of women refugees and immigrants.
The most important issue raised by participants in the study was the difficulty of finding appropriate work in this province. Other issues included the lack of suitable services or lack of information about available services and especially the lack of training and awareness among professionals about the issues that immigrant women face. Practical issues relate to the material problems of securing appropriate and affordable housing, transport and other services.
Despite these difficulties, the researchers were impressed with the vitality and determination of immigrant women to Newfoundland to make a success of their lives.
Dr. Jaya said the report’s primary suggestion is that resources be created to develop the social and financial capital to enable immigrant women to create small businesses. “It’s hard for everyone in this province to find jobs and that’s why we emphasize job creation through small businesses.”
In terms of the university, the report recommends that faculties and departments develop greater awareness of cultural diversity and put specific resources in place to integrate international students.