Women Refugees and Integration into U.S. society: The Case of Women from Bosnia and the Former Yugoslavia who Resettled in the United States

olsson.pdf (345.7 KB)
Downloads: 616
TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

The post-Cold War era has increased the displacement of people worldwide. The influx of refugees into the United States requires us to assess various aspects of what it means to be a refugee. This study examines the situation of women refugees who resettled and integrated into the U.S. society. Integration related to employment is studied using focus groups, with participants from the former Yugoslavia who resettled in Richmond, VA. This study explores the needs of women refugees during integration. Comparisons are made between women who recently arrived in the U.S. and women who resettled several years ago. The particular needs of women refugees are associated with language problems, non-qualifications of previous experience, transportation, stress, and role reversal. Concepts of practical gender needs and strategic gender interests provide a basis for developing measures that can target these concerns in the short- and the long-term. In addition, this study challenges previous notions of women refugees as helpless victims of their circumstances, and finds that women refugees often adjust through their own means and innovative skills. While displacement creates challenges for most refugees, this study finds that it can also be empowering for women who take on new roles in their country of resettlement and leave their patriarchal traditions behind.

resettlement, employment, Refugee women, integration