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Is it harder to immigrate to Canada when you're a woman?

Photo courtesy of Women of Diverse Origins
Will a person who identifies as a woman have a harder time immigrating to Canada? Figures collected for the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW) make the answer clear: yes.

The fact sheet published on the organization’s website lists the different ways in which the immigration system affects women differently. "Men are more likely to emigrate as principal refugee applicants with women cited as their family members (dependents), even though the majority of the world's refugees are women and children.” 

Women are adversely impacted by the importance placed on education and working experience in determining immigration eligibility; high immigration fees, “which women are less likely to be able to afford,” often prevent them from immigrating on their own, thus compelling them to enter the country as a sponsored immigrant, meaning “they are forced to rely on men whether they want to or not.” Moreover, the discretionary power given to immigration officers allows "biases and prejudices to come [into play]” in determining a woman's immigration eligibility.

Once they’ve arrived in Canada, the situation is no less grim. CRIAW cites a number of factors of precarity for migrant women: vulnerability to abusive relationships (especially noteworthy when women are “dependent upon their partners and employers for immigration status and economic support”), discrimination when trying to find housing, lower income caused by “racism among employers,” and health risks.

The March 8 Committee of Women of Diverse Origins, an alliance of grassroots women’s organizations in Montreal, believes this precarity is caused by “a system based on economic, social and political inequalities.” The committee, who organized a protest on International Women’s Day, works to “oppose discriminatory immigration and refugee policies which marginalize women and their families, keeping them in poverty and near-slave conditions, and [oppose] the effects of globalization which are driving down wages and working conditions of women, particularly immigrants and refugees and putting people into increasingly desperate conditions."

Read more about how women have been organizing against immigraton enforcement by the Canadian Border Services Agency on the Toronto media coop website.

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