We must support women to become independent

Haagse Huiskamer:


What can the future College of The Hague improve on the integration policy for refugees? More than 35 partners of the Haagse Huiskamer shared their recommendations in the Inspiration Memorandum for Statusholders. In the run-up to the publication of this Inspiration Memorandum, we explained five recommendations in the past few days. Today the last one. # 5: gender-specific support to (labor) participation for female status holders.

“Women and children represent almost half of the 22 million refugees worldwide, according to UNHCR, and women are twice as vulnerable to violence and exploitation, if only because of their gender. That is why self-reliance and labor participation of women status holders must be included as an explicit separate objective in the municipality’s approach. Many female status holders want to be independent and participate in Dutch society, but do not get the chance”, says Christina Moreno, initiator of the social organization She Matters. She Matters is committed to the integration of female status holders through gender-specific programs and workshops.

Alaa Alturki speaks from her own experience that finding a job in the Netherlands as an after-traveler brings many obstacles. A year ago, Alaa fled from Syria to the Netherlands and since then she has tried to join the labor market, but that process is very difficult. “Since I arrived in the Netherlands, I hoped to get back to work as quickly as possible, also to be independent and to build my life here. In Syria, I worked as an English teacher at a primary and secondary school, for which I also completed the education at the university. In the Netherlands, these diplomas and papers are unfortunately not enough. I have been advised by the municipality to study again for a period of three years. In the meantime, it is very difficult for me to find a job without support. I would then have to learn the language, get to know the culture, study for three years and find a job, almost without supervision. Unfortunately, there are few opportunities for support from the municipality, also because my husband has found a job.”

The fact that female newcomers encounter more obstacles in their way to a paid job is also evident in a study by the Knowledge Platform Integration and Society. The research shows that support for labor participation from municipalities is usually mainly aimed at the man in the family because it is assumed that this will appear on the labor market rather than the woman. The main goal then is to support the independence of the family. But what happens to the integration process of female newcomers?

Alaa finds her hope in organizations like She Matters, who take female status holders as the starting point in their program. “It is of enormous value to me what She Matters does for me. I got to know different organizations, so I could do an assignment as a translator!”, Says Alaa. During 12 weeks, she runs a part-time traineeship and she receives weekly workshops on ICT skills or cultural norms in the workplace. She Matters links all trainees to female mentors who offer both emotional and practical support.



Reproduced with permission.

Link to the original article in Dutch: https://www.haagsehuiskamer.nl/we-moeten-vrouwen-ondersteunen-zelfstandig-worden-2/

About She Matters:

She Matters empowers refugee and migrant women to build their social and economic capital, boost their self-confidence as well as become leaders in their homes, businesses, and communities.

She Matters envisions a world where all refugee and migrant women:

  • are empowered to fully participate in economic life across all sectors;
  • have equal access to education and political participation;
  • are free from violence;
  • have the support and services they need to thrive in daily life;
  • inform and drive their own solutions and development.


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