Department of Educational Administration


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Published (as Chapter 4) in K. Dirani, F. Nafukho, & B. Irby (Eds.), Talent development and the global economy: Perspectives from special interest groups (2017), pp. 41-60. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publications.


Copyright © 2017 by Information Age Publishing


In almost all refugee populations approximately half are women (Martin, 2004; UNHCR, 2014). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) describes refugees as individuals who are forced to migrate to other countries due to war, civil unrest, or fears of persecution. Not only do refugees receive no protection from their own government, it is frequently their own country that has threatened their personal security and freedom.

Refugee women face particular challenges when integrating into new communities, especially industrialized countries. Young women may unexpectedly be required to assume the role of caregivers or sole breadwinners when traditional heads of household are unable to learn local languages, or have difficulties adapting to the workforce. Older or single mothers lack the traditional support and friendship networks that extended families provide (Yakushko, 2010). Often unprepared for the new work environment, many refugee women lack sufficient language skills, technological experience, or cultural competence to adequately support a household or even themselves. Past experiences of trauma may exacerbate the difficulties of transition (UNHCR, 2008).

Part of claiming a rightful place in the host countries is full participation in society. Women who are alone or who are heads of household must be assisted with the tools and training that will permit them to acquire housing, transportation, healthcare, and other necessities, with the eventual goal of being fully independent and contributing members of their new communities. Preparing for the workforce through talent development is the first step on their journey of independence and empowerment (Yakushko, Backhaus, Watson, Ngaruiya, & Gonzalez, 2008). In this chapter, we will discuss how potential talent can be identified and developed during the critical stage of pre-employment of refugee women resettling in industrialized countries.