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How immigrant women from Africa negotiate new gendered roles within the family in Canada Ochieng, Jackline Awoko

Abstract

This research draws from the lived experiences of 15 African immigrants in Canada. While the focus of this study was on the new gendered roles within the family and how women negotiate these roles, the study found that it was difficult to separate gender from other oppressions, embedded in race, class, sex, age and nationality, that contribute to the experiences of women in Canada. Viewing immigrant women as an oppressed group and a critical community resource, points us towards a quest for understanding and recognising the diverse experiences that paradoxically situate the discourse of feminism and womanism. I peg on studies by African American and African women writers for theoretical grounding of the experiences of women (see Bobb-Smith, 2002; Collins, 2000; Bobb- Smith, 2002; Nfah-Abbenyi, 1997). I lean on agency discourse in representing voices of oppressed groups emphasising what members of the group do to resist oppressive systems (Smith, 1987). This study contributes to our knowledge on existing inequalities and thus becomes a great source of consciousness-raising among the academics, policy analysts, social workers and the public. Women in my study particularly used the following strategies: recreating new extended families, self dialogue, retraining and keeping several jobs. These strategies that women employ translate into consciousness-raising as immigrant women share with each other and pass this knowledge along to recent immigrants in ways that challenge the individualized liberal society that Canada is, redefine their goals and recreate a new sense of identity. Sharing knowledge and strategies is a cultural trait carried forward from Africa and transferred to Canada.

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