Cultur Project Officer Reuben Hambakachere

Meath-based group says 'migrant women have little or no chance of employment'

Louise Walsh

Many female migrants find it difficult to get a job interview, due to obstacles including 'subtle' racism and stereotypical attitudes, according to a local community group.

Some woman don't get called for interview while, in one case, a Nigerian lady was asked to sit apart from other candidates waiting for interview for the same job, says Cultur Migrants Centre.

The group have started a unique initiative to help up to 80 female migrants who, they say, 'have little or no chance of employment at the minute.'

The Navan-based centre says that 'subtle racism', which still exists in businesses, hinders a migrant's chance of gaining employment.

In co-operation with Meath Partnership, the Net-WORK project has already assisted three women in finding jobs in Dublin Airport and other places.

Cultur Migrant Centre is a community organisation that works with migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in promoting equal rights and opportunities to develop an inter-cultural Co. Meath.

Net-Work is aimed at training women to overcome obstacles that keep them at home, including impeded access to the labour market as well as employment discrimination based on race or religion, they say.

"There are many barriers experienced by migrant women in Meath at present and this project is being delivered through practical, hands on, support and training programmes that will enhance the skills of migrant women or refugees to progress in employment," said Cultur Project Officer Reuben Hambakachere.

"For many migrant men, the traditional role of women is staying at home and this is still forced on them today.  We try to address those intercultural differences and get men to see that their wife has an equal role in society.

"Part of our programme is to help women to set up their own business at home with training.  We also provide additional supports such as transport and childcare costs while they undertaking that training."

Experienced job coach Deirdre Dowling from Meath Partnership has also come on board to help with updating qualifications, honing interview skills and preparing CVs

However Reuben noted that the project was highlighting 'subtle racism' in many areas.

"Although equal opportunity is enshrined in Irish legislation, job seekers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds continue to contend with racism and discrimination in employment

"Many women don't even get called for interview, despite having the relevant qualifications.  We feel that once some employers even see a name of foreign origin or spot the address as Mosney, the applications get discarded - even though the people in Mosney have the right now to access the labour market.

"It's subtle but its there. Another lady told us that she was put sitting away from other candidates waiting for interview for the same job.

"She was told the others were applying for a different job but she got talking to them and discovered this wasn't the case."

At the moment, the new initiative, funded by Dormant Accounts Fund though POBAL has engaged 41 women, mostly from Africa and Asia to gain employment.

The goal of the 12 month programme is to see 80 women in training or education courses, work or self-employment.

"A lot of migrant women have little or no chance of employment at the minute but we hope to change this, he said.

"We are appealing to all organisations in Meath who would be interested in helping the issue to get in touch."