Migration, Education and Women’s Empowerment: A Case Study of Sub-Saharan African Women Immigrant in Gothenburg, Sweden

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för socialt arbete

Abstract: Migration is a multidimensional phenomenon, which expands the opportunities for productivework and leads to a wider perspective among migrants. Female migration from sub-SaharanAfrica (SSA) to Western Europe has gained importance during recent years and has been linkedto a variety of factors, including social and economic contexts, the level of poverty, genderequality and political instability in the sending countries. The aim of this study is to examine therelationships between migration, education and women’s empowerment among female migrantsfrom SSA who moved to Sweden. The study seeks to assess factors determining female migrationfrom SSA to Sweden; their integration process into the social life and labour market; theirempowerment process and the role of education; as well as implications of female migration forthe families and communities in the sending countries. Anti-oppressive, empowerment andfeminist theories have been considered. The empirical data consists of qualitative data, usingindividual interviews with primary respondents. The findings indicate that some female migrantsfrom SSA used voluntary migration (e.g. for studies reasons or family reunification) as strategyto move to Sweden. For other immigrants, the move to Sweden was dictated by the politicalinstability in the sending countries. The data demonstrate that the main challenges faced byfemale migrants during their integration into the Swedish society were the knowledge of theSwedish language, lack of social relations/networks and access to the required information. Forsome migrants, the integration process was hard and slow, while for others ‒ it was easy becausethey already had family members who immigrated before to Sweden and had backgroundinformation on Sweden. When it comes to accessing jobs, women even have more power thanmen as highlighted by respondents. Jobs were found to be in principle education-oriented and theknowledge of the Swedish language- a prerequisite. The data also confirm previous studies thatthere is still some segregation in the labour market, especially based on gender, ethnicity,educational background and the knowledge of the Swedish language. Gender equality betweenmen and female migrants was illustrated by equal division of tasks for home work and child care.The findings revealed that women in Sweden have the power to take independent decisionsregarding their lives, in accordance with the Swedish government policies on women’sempowerment. Finally, female migrant remittances were shown to have a positive impact on thefamilies and communities left behind.

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