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Refugee women in Germany: language, education and employment

Date 4 July 2017
type brief analysis

The BAMF’s Research Centre has presented a new brief analysis of the situation facing refugee women in Germany, linking research findings  with data obtained from administrative statistics. The results reveal that refugee women are highly motivated when it comes to participation in society, but that they need special support because of "initial disadvantages".

More than 500,000 girls and women sought protection in Germany from war and persecution between 2012 and 2016. Brief analysis 01/2017, drawn up by the BAMF’s Research Centre, illustrates their situation, focussing on acquisition of German-language skills, the schooling and vocational qualifications that they hold, as well as their opportunities for accessing the labour market in Germany. The analysis combines a variety of data sources and analysis methods. Data from qualitative interviews with resettlement refugees make it possible to have the voices of the refugee women heard, whilst data from quantitative studies and from asylum and integration statistics reveal broader trends. The analysis also makes use of multivariate analysis methods in an attempt to ascertain whether specific findings, such as the fact that refugee women are less proficient in German than men, are really a factor of gender, or whether it can be explained by other factors such as education.

One major result of the brief analysis is that refugee women’s disadvantages in schooling and vocational training, as well as in learning German, obviously stem from the fact that they significantly more seldom gain access to the educational institutions and language courses. Once they have gained a foothold, however, the measurable successes are on a par with those of men.  

Refugee women’s attendance at the nationwide integration courses is currently below average, and  they take longer to attend a course. The BAMF pays special attention to the accessibility of the integration courses for refugee women, and amongst other things has from this year onwards stepped up the childcare provisions for parents attending the courses. Special low-threshold courses for women enable those who have so far been unable or unwilling to attend an integration course to obtain an initial orientation in their place of arrival. These courses are also open for female asylum seekers whose applications have not yet been decided on.

Women refugees’ participation in gainful employment is much lower in Germany than that of male refugees, as well as that of other groups of the population. At the same time, the proportion of refugee women in part-time and marginal employment is higher, albeit this applies to general female population in Germany as well. Participation of refugee women in gainful employment is very much focussed on specific sectors, such as cleaning, tourism and hotel services and in restaurants. The disadvantageous position of women refugees on the German labour market presumably results from a combination of  several factors (poorer qualifications, less work experience, less frequent/later participation in language acquisition, family obligations). A clear majority of the women would however like to be in gainful employment.

The brief analysis was drawn up by: Susanne Worbs, Tatjana Baraulina

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Tatjana Baraulina

Migration and Integration Research, Focus: International Migration and Migration Governance

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Dr. Susanne Worbs

Migration and Integration: Monitoring and Series of Reports

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