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Refugee transition: An educational opportunity to support the advancement of women

Hollyn J Green, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In this dissertation, I offer a theoretical concept to guide educational program development during refugee transition. The premise behind the concept is that women, as a category of people, routinely experience wide-ranging, often culturally sanctioned, forms of violence and discrimination. In 1995, one in every 130 people in the world are refugees and displacees. Of these, 80 percent are women and their dependents (Women's Commission, 1993). I suggest that a point of entry to combat female-directed injustice is during the time of greatest cultural disruption in the refugee experience. Three factors build together to create this potential. Most refugees migrate from a "developing" country to a "developing" country. A comparison of the global pattern of refugee migration and the pattern of female illiteracy indicate a marked correspondence. Coupled with the fact that most refugees are female, the first factor is that the typical refugee will be a female with a history of unequal access to education. The second factor is that during refugee transition, which I define as the times of greatest cultural disruption in the refugee experience, traditional norms are in flux. The refugee is propelled into places where traditional patterns of social interaction are ruptured and not yet reestablished. In this environment of basic survival, a woman performs roles shaped by necessity rather than the social norms of her home culture. The third factor is that during refugee transition women cross traditional gender roles. Research indicates that women may actually "gain" from refugee flight. The new environments call upon women to expand beyond traditionally restrictive roles to develop a wider, and more influential, range of public skills and responsibilities. I suggest that the convergence of these factors during refugee transition creates a potentially rich, and unusual, learning environment for women. For further analysis, the concept is applied to a case study of Iranian refugees in Turkey.

Subject Area

Adult education|Continuing education|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Green, Hollyn J, "Refugee transition: An educational opportunity to support the advancement of women" (1995). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9606512.