A fresh start



Women and children represent 80% of the world's 27 million refugees. To obtain a better understanding of the strategies used by refugee women to facilitate their integration into their host country, Université de Montréal Social Services research professor Marie Lacroix interviewed 18 women from Congo, Rwanda and Algeria.

All of these women had arrived in Quebec seeking asylum, most of them accompanied by their children. Although many of them feel isolated, are preoccupied by the fate of family members still residing in the country of origin, and live under extremely precarious conditions, the results of Lacroix's research reveal that these women play an active role in their process of integration and apply strategies different from those used by men.

The quality, number and frequency of contacts with family and community are factors that facilitate the arrival and integration of refugee women in Québec. 

"We often see women who are seeking asylum as vulnerable, victims of their fate. However, the women with whom we spoke demonstrate strength and resilience that translate into involvement in social networks and community development, and participation in church life", explains Lacroix.

Indeed, we observe that the quality, number and frequency of contacts with family and community are factors that facilitate the arrival and integration of refugee women in Québec.

As these women rarely have access to health and social services – by whom they are perceived uniquely as victims –, these new data could support the efforts of public policy-makers, service providers and community organizations, and encourage them to play an active role in the well-being and integration of refugee women into Quebec society.