The Newcomer Students’ Association is thrilled to announce the Immigrant Women National Network (IWNN). We recognize the need to create a virtual community to support black and racialized 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 immigrant and refugee women. Looking through an intersectional lens, the aim of this network is two-fold. First, It aims to create a platform and safe space for immigrant and refugee women to connect with one another, share their stories, and offer peer support and mentorship. Furthermore, the network was established with a mandate to provide and equip immigrant and refugee women with the tools, knowledge, resources and skills they need to reach their full potential and be contributing and active members of the society.
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, as well as solutions to advance the inclusion of immigrant and refugee women in all aspects of the Canadian society.
We understand that these women face multiple intersecting barriers to settlement, integration, civic participation and career advancement. Through this network, we address and tackle issues related to social isolation, gender-based violence, mental health and wellbeing, civic engagement and leadership, as well as downward mobility for this segment. 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 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. We will advocate for fair representation of immigrant women in public office, in non-profit and corporations boards, and in the media.
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