Refugee women face unique risks and challenges, including finding means of supporting themselves and their families. Globally, nearly all economic indicators show that women are worse off than men and this economic marginalization can be intensified by violence and displacement. This combination of challenges harms women and limits their ability to safely generate, control and use economic resources.
To better assess and respond to the unique needs of refugee women, the International Rescue Committee, with grant support from BlackRock, embarked on a two-year research and implementation program in Niger, Kenya and Germany.
The initiative explored, developed and implemented new means of providing refugees and displaced populations with critical skills, relevant and secure jobs, and methods of integration into their new host-country communities.
The IRC designed contextualized interventions with a focus on women’s access to the labor market and the goal of strengthening refugee engagement in growth sectors. Despite barriers due to COVID-19 across all three national contexts, the IRC teams report an increase in economic employment either through job placement or sustained business operations following the program intervention.
Our Impact in Numbers:
- In Niger 91% of client businesses, including 81% of client businesses run by females, are still operational after six months of receiving grants; 90% of women report they are involved in making decisions about major purchases in their households.
- In Germany more than 83% of clients participating in job readiness trainings graduated from the full course; and 32% of clients in trainings run by IRC partners were placed in various employment, apprenticeships, or internships with the support of the project.
- In Kenya, clients who started the program unemployed were able to access new opportunities and increase their income as a result. 71% of the 409 supported businesses are still operational.
Dialog and Reflection:
In April 2022, an event was held to highlight the outcomes of the initiative and partnership, with a focus on lessons learned and data-driven best practices for designing and implementing economic empowerment programs in refugee communities. Drawing on that research, a wider conversation was catalyzed around what economic empowerment looks like for women impacted by conflict, crisis and displacement, and how these insights inform policies and programs moving forward.
- Funmi Balogun Head, Humanitarian Normative and Coordination Action Peace, Security and Humanitarian Section, UN Women
- Ourania Dionysiou, Vice President, International Philanthropy and Partnerships
- Raja Rantisi Hamayel, Palestinian women's rights activist, lecturer, journalist and member of the Action Network on Forced Displacement
- Daphne Jayasinghe, Chief Policy Adviser for Economic Programmes and Acting Head of Policy, IRC
- Isabelle Mateos y Lago, Managing Director, Global Head of BlackRock's Official Institutions Group and member of the firm's Geopolitical Risk Steering Committee
- Dr. Brian Ssebunya, Acting Senior Technical Director of the Economic Recovery & Development, IRC