Transnational Somali Families and Children's Well-Being: The Case of Finland

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Abdirashid ISMAIL, University of Helsinki, Finland
Generation wise, Somalis are a young population, the youngest among the communities in Finland and over 50 per cent of its population is under 20 years old. However, Somali children and youth are facing a number of challenges, ranging from identity crises to lack of employment opportunity to delinquency, that are adversely affecting their well-being.

Transnational family literature studying child-wellbeing has addressed questions of how the long-distance separations between children and their parents impacted children’s well-being. This paper intends to contribute to this literature by studying impact of parents’ transnational ties and networks on the well-being of their children living with them in their country of immigration, Finland in our case. The goal of this study is to explore the relative impact of transnational aspects of the Somali family life on their children’s well-being. The central emphasis is on how transnational engagements and networks of the family affect both the structure (divorce and prolonged inter-parental hostility) of the family and family involvement in children’s well-being. Basic assumption of this study is that the structure and behavior of the family,which play a central role in the well-being of the children, is affected by the family’s transnational life.

The study is based on data collected for two different projects: 1) A new four year study which investigates the experiences of Muslim, mainly Somali, women and men in Finland regarding lived realities of marriage impacted by state law and Muslim family laws as well as transnational family life. 2) A recent concluded study concluded aimed at identifying the challenges and successes in ensuring the integration of Somali immigrants in Finland, and understanding their experiences in major areas of their daily lives.