670.6 The quality of life of African immigrant women in Canada: A study of small-scale women entrepreneurs in the province of Alberta

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 11:40 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Distributed Paper
Patience ELABOR-IDEMUDIA , Sociology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
This paper highlights the findings of a study of the quality of life of African immigrant women entrepreneurs in western Canada. During the one-year study period, in-depth interviews focusing on variables that included access to housing, health care, training, transportation, social and economic capital, sense of safety and belonging in neighborhoods were conducted with fifteen small-scale immigrant women entrepreneurs in Calgary and Edmonton. The study’s findings revealed that in general, an intersection of race, ethnicity, gender and class mediated the women’s quality of life experiences. If should be noted that African immigrants started arriving in Canada in increasing numbers in the early 1990s, as a result of changes in Canadian Immigration policies and in response to ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors in sending countries and Canada. Globalization (with its related advancement in technology, communication and transportation) coupled with neoliberal economic reforms and structural adjustment policies have also exacerbated migratory trends (Yusufu 2005). Of significance is the fact that many contemporary African immigrants are women who traditionally did not migrate but are now increasingly doing so to re-unite with spouses/parents and to escape hardships. Their reality is that most of them with substantial educational credentials are often either been marginalized from the labour force or forced by the non-recognition of their credentials and past work experience to engage in low-paying jobs under poor and difficult working conditions (Hum and Simpson 2007, Elabor-Idemudia 1999). Experiences of exclusion and marginalization from the labour force as well as underemployment have stimulated some of the women to create self-employment involving small-scale enterprises operated from their homes and/or public spaces. This resolve to establish small-businesses is informed by the belief that it provides an important channel through which the women as minorities and immigrants escape labour market disadvantages in the mainstream economy (Light 1972, Waldinger 1994).