Changing Roles

Family and gender roles often require renegotiation during immigration because of the new demands and expectations arising from the immigrant woman’s role in a new minority ethnic group in Canada. This is especially true for immigrants who come to Canada from Third World countries. Women’s roles are often not offered this opportunity for renegotiation, due to cultural obligations to maintain ethnic identity.

By moving to a new country, immigrants:

  • are cut off from their larger family networks
  • have less help around the house and for carework for children and elders
  • have the increased demands of transitioning to a new environment
  • often have difficulty accessing the social services provided by the Canadian government due to language, cultural or economic barriers.

All of these factors greatly affect women as a direct result of immigration. While it is important that these responsibilities should not be considered a ‘burden’, nonetheless as cultural outsiders the fulfillment of these expectations puts a lot of pressure on these women. It makes it difficult for them to grow personally and fulfill their potential as individuals, particularly professionally.

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Resources

Stasiulis, Daiva and Abigail B. Bakan, “Negotiating Citizenship: The Case of Foreign Domestic Workers in Canada” Feminist Review 57 (1997), pp. 112-139.

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