Perceptions of Transportation Mobility Among Afghan Refugee Women

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Virginia Tech


Already home to an established Afghan American community, the Washington D.C. metropolitan region has seen a further increase in the number of Afghan refugees since the Fall of Kabul in 2021. This study explores the perceptions of mobility among Afghan refugee women as they resettle in their new communities. Through semi-structured interviews and a cognitive mapping exercise with nine women, this study reveals that barriers to daily mobility stem from lacking literacy and English language proficiency and from not possessing a driver's license—leading to restrictions in their desired mobility. The following themes surfaced through thematic analysis: reliance on social networks, a desire for third places and sense of independence and freedom. This study hopes to shed light on the lived experiences of Afghan women, an underrepresented population in mobility studies. The findings from this preliminary study also seek to inform cities with larger refugee populations to consider refugees in planning and design decisions.



Afghan refugees, cognitive mapping, gender, mobility, refugees