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Asylum-Seeking Women Enter the WorkForce | Civic Europe
Human rights, Social inclusion

Asylum-Seeking Women Enter the WorkForce

Empowering asylum-seeking women through education and vocational training, increasing their employability skills, and achieving integration and inclusion through learning and work opportunities


Who is behind this?

Lydia Siapardani

Irida Women's Center


Who is joining forces?


Idea pitch

We arm 20 asylum-seeking women with employability skills to enter the local labor market & claim sustainable jobs, breaking the dependency on state-provided allowances. Low skills & unemployment is a barrier to integration, linked to exclusion & various forms of abuse. We’ll support them to learn Greek & Computer, certify their knowledge, & do vocational training οn cosmetology. We’ll offer employability sessions & connect them to jobs, reinforcing them to generate income & gain work experience

Where will your project idea take place?

Thessaloniki, North Greece

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

-Asylum-seeking women are among the most vulnerable facing threats of social exclusion, marginalization, and gender-based violence. We will tackle social exclusion related to low skills and unemployment. Due to a lack of work and learning opportunities, they are not able to become financially independent and meaningfully participate in the local community. Hence, they face survival issues and exclusion
-In a community where there is an increase of opposition against refugees, asylum-seeking women face social & gender stereotypes that cause intersecting discrimination, as result both of their gender and their refugee background
-We will debunk the false narrative of “fragile” asylum-seeking women being “receivers” and “victims” in the community, by unlocking their potential and skills

Who are you doing it for?

For asylum-seeking women. There is a gap in their inclusion in the host community. The national integration programs offer limited resources for their integration, complicating their access to social rights. Asylum-seekers cannot access the public actor for employability (OAED) due to their temporary insurance number which is not recognized by OAED. Asylum-seeking women are excluded from education, employment, & engagement in the local community. In Thessaloniki, most of the integration activities, offered by other actors, focus on men, ignoring women’s needs. Women gradually get marginalized and dependent on male family members & state provisions to survive. After their recognition as refugees, state provisions stop. Women end up socially excluded, facing poverty & homelessness

How do you plan to get there?

-SKILL BUILDING: We will offer a holistic learning approach by providing access to education & vocational training and developing their soft skills related to employability. Τwice per week, the participants will attend intensive Greek and Computer lessons, aiming to take exams for B1 certificate competence, granted by the Greek Language Center and ECDL certificate, granted by the National Organization of Qualification of Professional Skills & Vocational Orientation. Once a week, they will attend work preparedness sessions, provided by our partner IsrAAID. 10 participants who will excel in exams, will access a scholarship to attend vocational training on cosmetology to a learning center certified by the National Organization of Qualification of Professionals Skills & Vocational Orientation
-CONNECTION WITH LOCAL BUSINESS: Through our network, we will establish connections with local companies, who may be potential employers. By the end of the employability seminars, in a five-series workshop, the owners will be invited to meet the participants, share with them what they want from job candidates and their concerns as employers
-WORKING GROUPS: Professionals with working experience at Cosmetology will share their experience & challenges. The aim of the working groups is to empower the participants and boost their self-esteem by exchanging their thoughts

What are the expected results?

By the end of the project:
-20 asylum-seeking women will complete intensive courses of Greek and Computers and will take exams for the respective certificates
-Ten women will be attending vocational training on cosmetology based on their interests and skills
-They will be armed to enter the labor market and claim sustainable employment
-The participants will be able to pursue safer living conditions for themselves and their children -and potentially get disengaged from an abusive environment -, contribute and fully participate in the local community, and rebuild their lives in a welcoming community. -We will stand a step closer to integration and socio-economic inclusion for asylum-seeking women
- We pave the way for asylum-seeking women to gradually become active citizens

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Access to work & learning opportunities are milestones of integration, inclusion & civic engagement. The project:
-Improves the livelihood & socio-economic inclusion of asylum-seeking women and their children
-Develops their intercultural, social, and civic skills required to become active citizens
-Increases their meaningful participation in the local community, building a diverse community. Diverse communities have higher rates of stability, inclusion, gender equality, innovation, & civic engagement
-Bridges the gap between the refugee women & the local labor market
-Debunks the false perception of local employees that they cannot be dynamic workforce
Within this context, we enable asylum-seeking women to gradually become decision-makers themselves-the core of active citizenship

Why is this idea important to you?

We have been working in supporting asylum-seeking women in the area of Thessaloniki, since 2018. We are a trusted actor in the region, having benefited 1129 women from 47 countries. The Irida team consists of passionate & dedicated female professionals. 50% of our staff are women with lived experience. During the years, we have observed an increasing opposition against refugees from the locals which creates polarization, dividing the community. At the same time, the government imposes restrictive measures, preventing asylum-seekers from accessing social benefits. We believe that this project responds to asylum-seeking women’s needs, supports integration & inclusion, and promotes social cohesion. We cannot change the national policies, but we can bring positive change to the local community

€ 49700,-

Total budget

€ 34450,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Vocational Training on Cosmetology for 10 women: 20000 EUR
Part-Time Computer Teacher's Salary: 8000 EUR
Examination Fees for Greek and ECDL for 20 participants respectively: 5500 EUR
10 Books for Learning Greek (A1-B2): 950 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

We wish to receive constructive feedback from the Civic Europe community, gain new skills, exchange good practices and join forces with other initiatives to defeat social exclusion & discrimination. We hope to increase our impact & help more refugee women to rebuild their lives in open communities


Ιrida Center

Idea created on April 26, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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