"Immigrant Women: Civic Leaders Building Strong Communities"
Chicago, Illinois: On the International Women’s Day, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) released the report: Immigrant Women: Civic Leaders Building Strong Communities which provides a snapshot of the state of immigrant women in Illinois. The report focuses on the importance of women’s integration into American society and the benefits of U.S. citizenship and English language learning for them and their families.
ICIRR in collaboration with the Chicago Foundation for Women celebrated the International Women’s Day with a breakfast that brought together dozens of women leaders from diverse immigrant and non-immigrant communities. Participants highlighted the critical role of women on effective integration while contributing to their families and communities well being. “Immigrant women’s positive impact on their communities is undeniable,” said Flavia Jimenez, Director of the New Americans Initiative at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). “They are eager to provide a better future for their families and therefore they are involving themselves and their families into the civic life of this new country that they call home”.
The report points out the benefits that making these decisions bring to women.
Among key findings:
• Women that become US citizens earn 53% more than non US citizens.
• 87% of the Latino women who are non US citizens speak little or no English despite their strong desire to learn it.
• There is a 43% increase of immigrant women who speak English well or very well after they become US citizens as compared to non-citizens
Among key recommendations:
• The state of Illinois should continue to invest in innovative leadership development programs that allow women to become integrated in their communities and lead to self-sufficiency
• Effective English language education that includes times and locations that are accessible to immigrant women with families is a key component to meaningful integration
Participants shared personal testimonies about how they have overcome obstacles to emerge as strong civic leaders in their communities. For Nadiya Arshi from India, learning English is the most important step towards integration. And she was able to learn the language because of organizations like the Muslim Women Resource Center, that operates with State funding and offers these critical programs for new immigrants like Nadiya that are eager to fully integrate into American society.