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Scaling Economic Opportunities for Refugee Women: Understanding and Overcoming Obstacles to Women’s Economic Empowerment in Germany, Niger, & Kenya

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Background

Women make up almost half of the global refugee population and face unique risks and challenges along the displacement journey (UNHCR, 2018). Not least of these is finding dignified and empowering ways of supporting oneself and one’s family in a new and unfamiliar setting (Gettliffe & Rashidova, 2019).

Globally, almost all economic indicators show that women are worse off than men, and this economic marginalization is intensified by violence and displacement (International Rescue Committee, 2019). Refugee women are consistently under- or un-employed in greater numbers than other populations. Data show that refugee women tend to have dramatically lower employment rates than refugee men, or host country women, and face major pay gaps (Kabir & Klugman, 2019).

With significant increases in global forced displacement over the past 10 years, it is now more critical than ever to consider the economic prospects of displaced women. Research suggests that improving refugee women’s access to decent work (whether formal employment or other income generating activities) provides significant gains for refugee women and their families, as well as the host country’s economy (Kabir & Klugman, 2019). However, significant barriers remain for both women and displaced populations, which are compounded in the case of refugee women.