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Accepted Paper:

Understanding and Supporting Female Immigrant Labour: Comparing the Cases of Jordan and Norway  
Sarah Tobin (Chr. Michelsen Institute)

Paper Short Abstract:

The challenges faced by Syrian refugee women in joining the labor force in Jordan and Norway often lead to entrepreneurship. Despite robust government policies and aid for individuals, structural barriers persist that push for self-employment, which is undersupported yet has strong potential.

Paper Abstract:

This paper provides ethnographic accounts of the experiences of Syrian refugee women as they attempt to join the labour force in Jordan and Norway. The experiences of Syrian refugee women in their (often unsuccessful) pursuit of traditional work opportunities and - for many - turn towards entrepreneurship sheds light on the intricate dynamics of female immigrant labor market integration. The Norwegian and Jordanian cases highlight the prevalence of government policies, aid programs, and work plans aimed at facilitating the integration of immigrant women into the workforce. However, the blocked mobility hypothesis proves relevant in both scenarios, illustrating that despite well-intentioned efforts, structural challenges persist, pushing female immigrants toward entrepreneurship. The paper also compares, in depth, the differing contexts in Norway and Jordan, and demonstrates that they converge on a common outcome: the path to self-employment as entrepreneurs is made more possible due to structural barriers in the labor market. The paper discusses that individual-focused policies and programs, which are the norm in these cases and often beneficial, are insufficient to overcome systemic barriers. At the same time, governments, private sector partners, and communities are slow to turn support towards female immigrant entrepreneurs, even as they proclaim positive socio-economic outcomes of a growing immigrant entrepreneurial base, particularly among women. Entrepreneurship emerges as a powerful - yet under explored and often "last resort" - mechanism for fostering socio-economic equality, healthy workplaces, financial inclusion, and immigrant integration.

Panel OP296
Migrations, gender equality and empowerment in the EU
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -