Women’s Economic Development Series

Securing Job Opportunities: Empowering Newcomer Women for Career Success 

Written by: Elizabeth Narvàez

Women play a very important role in worldwide economies, when women work, economies grow (UN Women), however, it is no secret that the gap between men and women in the workplace does not benefit women overall. 

An important topic in which women and especially newcomer women are affected is job security. According to Policy Options Politiques, “university-educated immigrant women experienced the largest unemployment rates, 12.6 percent in May 2020, 7.3 percentage points higher than in May 2019. In contrast, university-educated Canadian-born women experienced unemployment rates of 5 percent, only 2.7 percentage points higher than in 2019” 

The very significant gap between these two groups of women can be evident in numbers. Still, the reality is very challenging when summarizing all the barriers that women immigrants must overcome in order to be able to compete with Canadian-born experienced women. Newcomers who have connections are at a clear disadvantage when faced with those that arrive with a work permit, for example. Young international students encounter cultural shock including language

barriers, lack of experience in both the workplace and student life, low incomes, and most times their network is as wide as their classroom. 

One strategy that helps to face the barriers is to get financial advice from banks. Few people know that by opening an account in any bank, they have the option of getting advice from a financial expert just by scheduling an appointment at the branch. These kinds of consults offer a leg up for newcomers on how to wisely handle their money and investments. 

Another way newcomers and especially women can find support is through their community, there are several organizations that focus on sharing contacts and experiences. Most of them have diverse mechanisms to cover newcomers’ essential needs like job consultation, clothes services, food banks, and more. 

Immigrant women must go the extra mile to have access to the same opportunities that Canadian-born women just to be able to enter the workforce and yet, numbers show that immigrant women are a significant part of the working population in Canada, “4,200,630 immigrant women were in the labor market in 2022 and from those, 2.9 million were visible minorities” (CIC News). It is at the same time a very inspiring example of courage and a realization that we can do better as a country just by offering more job security mechanisms and extending support to these kinds of organizations. 


UN Women (2018) https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/economic-empowerment/facts-and figures 

Policy Options Politiques, Ana Ferrer and Bessma Momani, The startling impact of COVID-19 on

immigrant women in the workforce, https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/october-2020/the startling-impact-of-covid-19-on-immigrant-women-in-the 

workforce/#:~:text=University%2Deducated%20immigrant%20women%20experienced,points%20h igher%20than%20last%20year. 

Canadian Women Foundation, Anuradha Dugal & Karen Campbell (2017), Economic Security of Women in Canada, https://canadianwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/FEWO-EcDev-Policy Brief_CWF.pdf 

CIC News, Edana Robitaille (2023), How are immigrant women faring in Canada’s workforce? https://www.cicnews.com/2023/03/how-are-immigrant-women-faring-in-canadas-workforce 0333567.html#gs.037dvu