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Racialized Migrant Women in Canada

Racialized Migrant Women in Canada: Essays on Health, Violence and Equity

Edited by Vijay Agnew
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Racialized Migrant Women in Canada
    Book Description:

    Agnew delves into the public and private spheres of several distinct communities in order to expose the underlying inequalities within Canada's economic, social, legal, and political systems that frequently result in the denial of basic rights to migrant women.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8984-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-36)

    I emigrated from India to Canada in 1970 and immediately joined the graduate program in history at the University of Toronto, located in the city’s downtown core. I lived in the graduate residence and spent most of my time in and around the campus. I wore a sari in those days, and felt conspicuous among the jeans-and sweater-wearing students. I was immediately noticeable, and many students and professors, wanting to be friendly and hospitable, would politely enquire where I came from and what I was doing in Toronto. I thought of myself as a foreign student, and was mostly treated...

  5. PART ONE Immigrant Women and Violence
    (pp. 37-40)

    Violence against women as a subject of debate entered Canadian public discourse in the 1980s and immediately took on an intensity that gave it signifi cance in most accounts on women. Academics, activists, and women’s groups entered this debate and sought to defi ne what constituted violence and to substantiate its widespread prevalence in society. They went on to analyse various academic theories and popular myths about the causes of violence against women, and rethought society’s obligation to provide security and protection to the isolated and vulnerable woman in the privacy of her home. In response to the widespread concern...

  6. 1 The Complicity of the State in the Intimate Abuse of Immigrant Women
    (pp. 41-69)

    While without question individual men are responsible, and ought to be held accountable, for the violence they perpetrate against their intimate partners, a focus on individual men often obscures the ways in which social institutions, structures, and ideologies enable intimate violence. This critical insight of early feminist work on woman abuse is one of which we must be relentlessly mindful, for it is easily lost in the quest to fi nd solutions to the ongoing abuse of women. In particular, the focus of much mainstream feminist activism upon the role of the criminal-justice system in punishing individual men – in which...

  7. 2 Violence in Immigrant Families in Halifax
    (pp. 70-94)

    For some years, organizations in Halifax that have been providing services for victims of violence in immigrant families have recognized the need for good working relationships and open communication between policy-makers, service providers, and the immigrant community. Often, however, the day-to-day work of service providers takes precedence, and building relationships and opening channels of communication are neglected. In addition, there is a lack of attention to research about violence in immigrant families and their needs in Atlantic Canada, and, as a consequence, a gap in services.¹ To address these issues, the Metropolitan Immigrant Settlement Association (MISA) conducted the ‘Violence in...

  8. PART TWO Immigrant Women and Health
    (pp. 95-97)

    Health is not only an objective biological phenomenon but one that is culturally defi ned and practised. Gender is a determinant of health, and scholars argue that women’s health varies depending on their social roles and the socio-economic context of their lives. Ilene Hyman, in her reportImmigration and Health,found that immigrants’ health is shaped by their environment and their living conditions and that it changes in response to the pressures of poverty, marginalization, and class inequities (2001).

    In ‘Gender, Migration, and Health’ Arlene Bierman, Farah Ahmad, and Farah Mawani examine the interaction between the determinants of health and...

  9. 3 Gender, Migration, and Health
    (pp. 98-136)

    The migration experience exerts a profound influence on the health and well-being of immigrants (Beiser 2005), adding another layer of complexity to the multiple pathways through which the determinants of health operate. Gender and ethnicity, powerful determinants of health, also shape the migration experience of immigrant women (Boyd and Grieco 2003). Health outcomes for immigrant women are, therefore, the product of the interplay between social and medical health determinants, the migration experience, and gender roles, in both their country of origin and in the host society.

    Globally, migration is resulting in the increasing racial and ethnic diversity, within nations, of...

  10. 4 Policy (In) Action: Policy-Making, Health, and Migrant Women
    (pp. 137-162)

    Canada is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, and over 18 per cent of its populace is foreign-born (Citizenship and Immigration Canada [CIC] 2005; Ng et al. 2005). Cultural diversity and official multiculturalism are potent symbols of the imaginary of the Canadian nation state and are reinforced by the ongoing influx of immigrants and refugees from around the world. In 2004, approximately 236,000 immigrants and refugees entered Canada, and of these over 120,000, or 52 per cent, were women (CIC 2005; Ng et al. 2005). Nearly half of these women originated in the Asia/Pacific region, 20...

  11. 5 Review of Health and Policy Research on Older Immigrants
    (pp. 163-186)

    In recent years, health researchers and policymakers in Canada have endorsed a population-based approach that defi nes ‘health’ not as being the mere absence of disease but rather as including a broad range of socio-economic, physical, and environmental factors that contribute to human development (Frankish 1996). Individual and collective health is infl uenced by social determinants such as education, positive child development, public services, income, social status, working conditions, support networks, and physical environment. Additional determinants of immigrant health include a sense of physical and psychological security, satisfactory housing, employment appropriate to education, and culturally appropriate and accessible health and...

  12. 6 Exploring Social Capital among Women in the Context of Migration: Engendering the Public Policy Debate
    (pp. 187-204)

    Often simplistically summed up as ‘It’s who you know, not what you know’, the concept of social capital is no stranger to criticism. Given this (mis)conception, it is no wonder that recommendations to integrate social capital into public policy cause much debate among social scientists. Contributions to social-capital theory by scholars such as Wakefield and Poland (2005), Franklin (2004), Salaff and Greve (2004), Mackian (2002), Drevdahl et al. (2001), Adler and Kwon (2000), and Kawachi et al. (1997) include more critical analyses of social-capital theory. Appraisals pivot on findings where social networks operate as resources that support women’s health, well-being,...

    (pp. 205-207)

    Equity incorporates the concepts of equality and justice, and in contemporary times is often used loosely to refer to either of them. Equality and justice are legal terminologies, but equity is a broader and more fl exible term. Martha Nussbaum, a feminist political philosopher, quoting Aristotle, writes that ‘equity is a kind of justice, but a kind that is superior to and frequently opposed to another sort, namely, strict legal justice … It may be regarded as a ‘correcting’ and ‘completing’ of legal justice’ (1999, 160). The authors included in this section go beyond interpreting legal principles or asserting that...

  14. 7 Immigrant Women and Earnings Inequality in Canada
    (pp. 208-232)

    The existence of a gender wage gap in the Canadian labour market is undeniable. In 2003 the average earnings of women were 63 per cent of their male counterparts’ (Statistics Canada 2006). Wage disadvantages for the foreign-born and visible-minority populations also are well documented (Aydemir and Skuterud 2005; Boyd 1992; Basavarajappa and Halli 1997; Basavarajappa and Jones 1999; Hum and Simpson 1999; Li 2000, 2001; Palameta 2004; Pendakur and Pendakur 1998, 2000, 2002; Reitz 2001; Smith and Jackson 2002; Swindinsky and Swindinsky 2002). These inequalities fuel increasing interest in the ‘triply disadvantaged,’ that is, visible-minority immigrant women, who suffer the...

  15. 8 Migrant Muslim Women’s Interests and the Case of ‘Shari’a Tribunals’ in Ontario
    (pp. 233-264)

    On 15 February 2006 the Ontario legislature passed theFamily Statute Law Amendment Act, bringing two and a half years of public debate – or one chapter of the debate – to a close. Introduced into the legislature only three months earlier, the new law makes any religious arbitration of family disputes unenforceable in Ontario, and requires that all family arbitrations conform to provincial statutory requirements. Henceforth, a family-arbitration decision will be enforceable only if the arbitrator applies Ontario law or that of another Canadian jurisdiction. Arbitrators may not apply, for example, New York State law or Talmudic law or Islamic law....

  16. 9 Haitian-Canadians’ Experiences of Racism in Quebec: A Postcolonial Feminist Perspective
    (pp. 265-294)

    This chapter presents experiences of everyday racism observed and collected in a critical ethnography among a group of Haitian-Canadians in Quebec.¹ In this essay I argue that encounters with ‘systematic, recurrent, and familiar practices’ (Essed 1991, 3) of racism impede the social integration of Haitian-Canadians. Essed (1991, 2000) cautions researchers about emphasizing ‘institutional’ over ‘individual’ racism, for such a distinction ‘places the individual outside the institutional’ and blurs the relationship between these two forms of racism. I found that Haitian-Canadian women’s experiences of everyday racism influence their care for aging parents at home, and their underutilization of health and home-care...

  17. 10 Challenging Gendered and Ethno-Racial Assumptions in Organizing for Housing Rights
    (pp. 295-316)

    In the face of globalization, international migration has meant that urban areas around the world are becoming increasingly ethnically diverse. This is especially the case in Canada, a country with some of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. The presence of women from diverse cultural backgrounds in our neighbourhoods has forced community workers, especially those of European heritage, to reevaluate the meaning and implementation of their feminist values. Community organizing in Canada must adapt to the challenge of difference if it is to be effective in working towards social justice with a focus on gender and ethno-racial equity....

  18. Conclusion
    (pp. 317-322)

    Immigrants from Third World countries have come to live in Canada throughout the twentieth century and, now, into the new millennium. Earlier in the last century they were far fewer in numbers and had more restrictions placed on their entry than in later years. In the last three or four decades, the lives and contributions of these immigrants have been documented, and there is now greater understanding of the myriad ways in which race, class, and gender intersect and inform the conditions under which aspiring Canadians live and work.

    The essays in this volume have had the objective of contributing...

  19. Contributors
    (pp. 323-329)