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From empowerment to employment: job-related support for refugee women


Group of female participants on a project visit learning about working as a bus driver.
© Arbetsförmedlingen, Project Mirjam, 2016/Caroline Eng

In Sweden today, more than one in five foreign-born women of working age do not have a job. That's why the Swedish Public Employment Service has set up Mirjam. Mirjam’s small coaching groups, at six locations across Eastern Central Sweden, provide job-related guidance and inspiration for newly-arrived refugee women. During a ten-week course, participants learn about the Swedish labour market, study opportunities, financial support for studies, rights in society, and work/life balance. They also study Swedish, as language is one of the biggest barriers to work.

Most importantly, participants also visit training providers and workplaces. They are able to see the types of work available, to learn how they might translate the skills they already have into working life in Sweden, and to meet other professional women who could act as role models.

The aim of Mirjam is to provide participants with increased power over their lives. It is hoped that the project will bring about positive effects on women’s finances, employment and education.

The project will run for three years, during which it expects to have more than 540 participants; so far, 74 women have taken part. Many have cited the study visits as particularly useful, with 86% saying they now know what jobs they would like to have.

"It’s easier to know whether you want to work in a particular field if you can see how things work in reality,” says project manager Maria Edberg.

Project name Mirjam
Duration 2016 - 2019
ESF contribution € 1,757,173.20
Total budget € 2,634,475.50
Participants 540 (planned)
Country Sweden
Organisation Swedish Public Employment Service
Contact details Maria Edberg
Related links 1.1.1. Opening pathways for work