The Newcomer Students’ Association is thrilled to announce the Immigrant Women’s National Network (IWNN). We recognize the need to create a virtual community to support newcomer, immigrant, and refugee women, as they are one of the hardest hit groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these women have experienced mental health issues, social isolation, lack of social capital, gender-based violence, and unemployment. In fact, they are a group with one of the highest unemployment rates from May 2019 to May 2020, and one whose university education could not protect them from losing their jobs. They also face downward mobility and barriers to access resources and support systems. IWNN is a national network addressing issues and policies impacting the economic, social, and civic integration and engagement of newcomer, immigrant, and refugee women. Looking through an intersectional lens, the aim of this network is two-fold. First, we aim to create a national network for all newcomer, immigrant, and refugee women to connect with one another by sharing their stories, offering peer support and resources to one another. Such a network, led by and for immigrant women, where they can learn together, mentor and empower each other, is the safe space IWNN hopes to create.
Second, the national network will act as a community of practice, bringing together experts, knowledge holders, and those with lived experience in immigration, displacement, resettlement and integration, to address issues, barriers, and challenges facing this community. By organizing learning circles and professional development activities, as well as providing best practices and other growth and advancement opportunities, IWNN aims to facilitate immigrant women’s social, civic, political, and economic inclusion in the Canadian labour market and in the broader society.
Immigrant Women’s National Network was established with a mandate to provide and equip newcomer, immigrant and refugee women with the tools, knowledge, resources and skills they need to achieve their full potential, so they may equally and fully participate in all aspects of Canadian society without barriers. This would go a long way in building their capacity, and would in turn help in advancing their leadership potential. We understand that these women face multiple intersecting barriers to settlement, integration, civic participation and career advancement. Through this network, NSA addresses issues related to social isolation, gender-based violence, mental health and well-being, as well as downward mobility for this group of women. The objective of IWNN is not to provide short-term settlement solutions, but rather build strategies for long-term integration and advancement. The broader goal is to work towards sustainable inclusion and empowerment for newcomer, immigrant, and refugee women in all aspects of Canadian society. The network aims to amplify the voices of immigrant and refugee women while transforming and empowering their experiences. IWNN hopes to do this through documenting the stories and lived experiences of immigrant and refugee women, as well as using storytelling as a tool of empowerment to challenge and disrupt the status quo.
We envision the network conducting national advocacy campaigns and efforts to address the challenges facing this segment, as well as organizing public forums to raise awareness about these issues. Leadership and civic engagement programs will also be developed to provide the community with the tools and resources they need to fully and equally participate in all aspects of our society.
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