Refugee Women in London: The Experiences of Somali Women


  • Rosemary Sales Middlesex University
  • Jeanne Gregory Middlesex University



United Kingdom, Somali refugees, refugee women, gender, power, work, resettlement, integration


This article is based on interviews with twenty Somali refugee women living in London. The interviews focused mainly on the women's experiences since arriving in Britain and their hopes and expectations for themselves and their children. The article explores the extent to which gendered roles have been reinforced or renegotiated as a result of their move to Britain. For most of the women, their lives in Somalia were based primarily within the household. Some had worked in professional occupations and had combined public and private roles through the support of female kin. For all the women, exile brought financial, social and legal insecurity and none was in permanent employment. Some, however found new independence and confidence in exile, and have been able to renegotiate relationships from a more powerful position. Others have lost status and self-esteem, and those who have been able to combine caring roles with professional work in Somalia have found this impossible in Britain. The study exposed the gaps between the women's skills and experience and the work they have been able to find. There is an urgent need for Somali speakers in teaching, medicine and social work, but Somali qualifications are not recognized in Britain. This demonstrates the urgency of comprehensive strategy, including training, for refugee resettlement in Britain.


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How to Cite

Sales, R., & Gregory, J. (1998). Refugee Women in London: The Experiences of Somali Women. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 17(1), 16–20.

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