Fostering Women’s Empowerment: Training Pathways for Economic Inclusion, Increased Resilience, and Work Readiness

Lisa Hodge, Romana Morda, Angela Paredes Castro, Jill Bamforth, Anne Jones

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter is based on a mixed methods research evaluation of a peer-supported vocational education program, with refugee women from South Sundanese backgrounds. Disproportionately high levels of unemployment in refugee groups, including women from South Sudanese backgrounds, have been found to negatively affect women’s financial, psychological, and social well-being. Significantly, African women experience more complex barriers to employment than men. These barriers include nonparticipation in education, language proficiency, and discrimination. In addition, Sudanese women seeking education and employment are seen to be challenging traditional gender and cultural roles. The chapter shares why strategies are needed that address employment barriers for financially vulnerable women from South Sudanese backgrounds, including the provision of education and training, mentoring, and promoting diversity awareness among employers. This chapter is situated in a contemporary feminist framework informed by an intersectionality lens, using a multistage research design and incorporating mixed methods. A critical diversity literacy (CDL) framework is also used to analyze survey and interview data obtained from Australian technical and further education sector (TAFE) educators and employers participating in the pilot study. CDL is a conceptual tool for analyzing the ways in which possibilities are opened up or closed down for those holding nonmainstream positions within specific social contexts. This chapter discusses three salient issues: how South Sudanese women overcome barriers to access and engage in study and work; the types of support South Sudanese women require in order to participate in education and the workforce; and what they consider as a culturally safe environment to study and work. This chapter identifies culturally safe learning and employment environments and informs culturally appropriate approaches to vocational education and training and workplace diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Social Inclusion
Subtitle of host publicationResearch and Practices in Health and Social Sciences
EditorsPranee Liamputtong
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer, Cham
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783030482770
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


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