In France, refugee women have very limited access to higher education and are faced with the challenge of having their diplomas and previous professional experience recognized, as well as the inaccessibility of academic and professional networks. Yet, in France they constitute 40% of the people under the protection of the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA).
The UniR Universities & Refugees organization was created to address this issue. Since 2018, it has been setting up programs to promote their academic integration. Noting that a large majority of participants (97%) in its actions are men, UUR launched an action research project whose main objective was to highlight the obstacles faced by refugee women in accessing higher education in Île-de-France, and to develop actions to address these issues. Following this study, the association launched the “Intercultur’elles” program in 2020, which is a 6-month program that facilitates the sharing of experiences between pairs of women composed of a newcomer wishing to resume academic studies or enter the workforce and a local working woman. The first 3 sessions of the program, conducted in a confined context, allowed to consolidate the contents of the training tools, to set up partnerships and to constitute a network of exchanges and sharing of information for the recruitment of participants and mentors.
UniR supports refugees and asylum seekers in their academic integration. With the personalized program of support for resumption of studies and through the production and dissemination of knowledge, UniR aims at enhancing the career paths of exiled persons and their integration in France through education, an open door to sustainable jobs that match their ambitions.