As we enter these challenging times, Road of Hope is doing all we can to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and the refugees that we help. Following regulations set by the Dutch government, we have had to cancel all events, workshops and lessons. Our staff will continue to work from home.
Yet, hope is not lost! We will continue to be there for each other and help in whatever we can. Road of Hope will soon begin to create initiatives to bring the community together whilst in isolation. For the time being, we wish all our readers the very best and will keep working harder than ever to support our refugees. Please enjoy our March newsletter, focusing around the subject of women!
The 8th of March once again saw people across the world come together to celebrate International Women’s Day and Road of Hope was amongst them!
Since 2013, women have made up thirty percent of refugees arriving in the Netherlands; the majority come to the country with very basic education and limited work experience. According to the most recent statistics, in 2018 , 5900 female refugees applied for asylum in the Netherlands, twenty nine percent were rejected.
Following their forcible displacement into a new country, female refugees are often faced with the daunting challenge of reevaluating their traditional gender roles, not only in their public lives but also at home. Many women look to enter the workforce in order to provide for themselves and their families, whilst increasing their own independence and future opportunities. However, they are much more likely to encounter difficulties when pursing employment than their male counterparts and as statistics show, this unemployment has significantly detrimental effects on female refugees’ mental health.
Refugee women’s difficulty in gaining employment also has a negative impact on their new country’s economy. With the appropriate support, refugee women have the potential to contribute up to $1.4 trillion to global GDP. Yet, regrettably, women are significantly less likely to be economically active in their host country than men.
Yet, even if these women gain employment, they still face discrimination as a result of their gender. This is shown most clearly in the significant wage gap between earnings of refugee men and women.
What causes these wage gaps? Firstly, women are segregated into certain occupational sectors, such as domestic work, which are often viewed as unskilled and low-paid. They also face discrimination based on their race, ethnicity and religion and are more likely to be victims of violence, including harassment in the workplace. Additionally, women face language barriers, costly child care, and can be held back by their native cultural norms which prevent their mobility or employment in mixed-gender environments. Finally, if these women manage to enter the workforce, lax labour regulations in their new countries leave many refugee women susceptible to exploitation and abuse.
You can find out more about the challenges refugee women face in entering the workforce on our Instagram page.
“Breath of Hope teaches us how to deal with new and difficult situations, helping us to understand how to raise our kids in a new environment and also helping us to improve our Dutch”.
Although a new initiative, Breath of Hope has had an incredible impact on refugee women’s lives in Amsterdam, proven by the overwhelmingly positive feedback we have received from our participants.
The programme is specifically for female refugees, providing a safe and supportive place for women to talk about their emotions, experiences and problems when integrating into Dutch society. In the first few months, women have talked about their insecurities in such practical issues as communicating with their children’s schools, passing a driving test or getting a job with few formal educational qualifications. They also freely talk about their insecurity and self-doubt in their new society, a common feeling within the refugee community.
Breath of Hope provides these women with methods to cope with these feelings and teaches them how to overcome their own psychological barriers to enable them fully and confidently integrate into Dutch society. The sessions build their emotional resilience and provide comfort to those who feel isolated and alone. Women leave with a stronger sense of self belief, enabling them to become an active part of Dutch society and to contribute to their new community in a positive and fulfilling way.