Women

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Women

Quick Facts Concepts, Skills and Terminology How to Learn More Find Services
Clients.jpgWomen experience migration and settlement in different ways than men and often have unequal access to social resources that affect their health. They face challenges in areas including labour market integration, violence against women, language, social supports, housing and mental health.

Quick Facts

  • One in five Canadian women is born outside Canada. Statistics Canada
  • Immigrant women of all ages more likely to have low income and those aged 25-54 are less likely to be lone parents than Canadian-born women. Statistics Canada
  • One in three women globally will experience either intimate partner violence or non-partner violence. World Health Organization, 2013
  • 67% of Canadians have known a woman who has experienced physical or sexual abuse in 2012. Canadian Women's Foundation
  • Women aged 15 and older were 81% of all victims of police-reported spousal violence in 2010. Statistics Canada
  • Reported rates of family and intimate partner violence are lower among immigrant women, particularly newcomer women, compared with Canadian-born women. City of Toronto, 2011
  • Reports of violence increase among immigrant women who have lived in Canada for a longer time, however, research suggests that immigrant women are less likely to use health services, legal services, shelters and hotlines compared with Canadian-born women. City of Toronto, 2011


In literacy and education:

  • The need for official language training amongst immigrants is higher for women than men. Statistics Canada
  • Immigrant women more likely to have completed university than women born in Canada. Statistics Canada
  • School attendance higher for newcomer women than Canadian-born women aged 15 and over. Statistics Canada


In employment:

Concepts, Skills & Terminology

Discover important concepts, definitions and terms relating to serving immigrant women in the settlement sector.

Concepts

Immigration and Women


Settlement Challenges and Women

  • Precarious immigration status
  • Unequal access to social resources that affect health
  • Employment/Labour market integration
  • Violence Against Women
  • Language and Literacy
  • Isolation and Social supports
  • Mental health
  • Family issues (i.e. multiple roles within the family, changes in the marital relationship)
  • Housing
  • Poverty
  • Discrimination
  • Access to culturally and linguistically appropriate health services Springtide Resources, 2013

In addition, refugee women may be more likely than other newcomer women to experience rape, sexual abuse, harassment, and/or the obligation to grant sexual favours in return for food or necessary papers before or during their migration process, which increase their risk for post-traumatic disorders. City of Toronto, 2011

Violence Against Immigrant Women
Some of the tactics used against immigrant women by their intimate partners are set out in the Power and Control Wheel for Immigrant Women - National Centre on Domestic and Sexual Violence (USA).
In the non-status, refugee and immigrant newcomer (NSRIN) community, violence against women may occur in the following ways:

  • Abuse within intimate relationships
  • State violence, war, rape and political persecution in country of origin
  • Human trafficking
  • Violence against LGBTQ2S individuals, forced marriage,"corrective rape" and harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation in country of origin
  • Systemic racism in law enforcement in Canada
  • Threats of deportation Springtide Resources, 2013


Multiple barriers for NSRIN women to access services to address violence against women include:

  • Lack awareness of their rights in Canada
  • Reluctance to engage with law enforcement, government bodies, and community service agencies due to systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, or prejudices against their religion
  • Fear of deportation
  • Lack of services offered in the person's first language
  • Lack of services offered within a particular cultural or religious tradition
  • Poverty (e.g. lack of phone, permanent housing)
  • Difficulties in navigating multiple systems and services and understanding the legal implications of certain decisions (e.g. disclosure and mandatory reporting Springtide Resources, 2013


Key service needs for newcomer women experiencing intimate partner violence include:

  • Prevention strategies to address the determinants of intimate partner violence
  • Information and awareness-raising among newcomer community members about available resources
  • Access to physical and mental health service information and awareness-raising among health service providers about how to address this issue and make appropriate referrals
  • Crisis intervention services, including counselling and shelters
  • Supports and services to assist with longer-term independent living for women who choose to permanently leave their partner, including help with housing, income supports, language and job training; and legal support and information about legal rights, Canadian laws, and the law enforcement and justice systems.
  • Linguistically and culturally appropriate services, information and support, and for supportive services, regardless of whether women choose to leave a relationship. City of Toronto, 2011

Skills

See topic pages on Settlement and Employment, Settlement and Mental Health and Client Focus pages where relevant.
Useful tools for situations where there is suspected violence against a woman using your settlement agency services:

Terminology

Violence Against Women
The United Nations defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."

Woman Abuse
The Middlesex-London Health Unit defines woman abuse as the intentional and regular use of tactics to establish and maintain power and control over the thoughts, beliefs and behaviour of a woman by creating fear and/or dependency. All forms of abuse result in the woman losing some if not all dignity, control, safety and personal power. Abused women change their behaviour, preferences and/or choices because they fear the consequences or retaliation of their abusive partner.

There are several terms to describe violence against women. Each term understands the issue differently and as such is guided by a different set of values and beliefs. Some of the commonly used terms: domestic violence, domestic assault, family violence, woman abuse, violence against women, are described in Understanding and Responding to Woman Abuse online course by Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI).

How to Learn More

40px-Crystal package settings.png Featured Resource! Understanding and Responding to Sexual Violence in Immigrant and Refugee Communities (Self-directed) - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)

Further your knowledge with practical guides, best practices, projects and research. Find out how to become qualified to work in the field through online or classroom-based training.

Best Practices/Practical Guides

This guide includes information on the refugee claim process, as well as definitions of commonly used terms.
The objective of this information guide is to assist Joint Assistance Sponsors prepare for the arrival of their refugee families.
This website includes basic information about filing a refugee claim, including the steps involved, timelines and additional resources that could help you.
The final report of a conference for Refugee Sponsors, Immigrant Serving Agencies, and CIC staff.
This tool kit seeks to educate and inform the immigrant and refugee serving sector about gender issues, and encourages agencies and workers to incorporate gender analysis into their work.
40px-Crystal package settings.png Featured Resource! Fact Sheet: Moving Women Out of Violence - Canadian Women's Foundation - 2013

Courses/Training

Interactive 2-day training series for settlement service providers, offered across Ontario
Individual and in-house group training for staff from immigrant service agencies whose positions are funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI)

Online Learning

Related Projects/Initiatives

Further Reading

This booklet has information on Ontario family law and how it can affect immigrant women, their partners or spouses, and their children. It also deals with issues such as family violence and immigration status - 2009
A national, not-for-profit organization committed to advancing the equality of women through research about the diversity of womens experience.

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