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An ILO study on the employment of Syrian refugees exposes women’s double discrimination


The ILO launched its new study entitled “Assessment of the Impact of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon and their Employment Profile” and dealing with the employment situation of Syrian refugees in Lebanon.  According to the study, low remuneration, high unemployment rate and poor regulation of the job market, pose serious challenges to the livelihoods of both residents and refugees in the local host communities.  The study which was released last week noted that the majority of Syrian refugees in Lebanon suffer from low pay and harsh working conditions and are characterized by low education and skill levels.  The study was administered to 400 families totaling some 2004 individuals and targeted 4 geographical areas, namely Akkar, Tripoli, Bekaa and South Lebanon. Interviews which covered all family members revealed that the overwhelming majority of the Syrian refugees are youth and children and that more than half of that population is less than 24 years old.

The study revealed that the educational attainment of both women and men is almost the same and is generally low.  One third of the refugees is either illiterate or never went to school, some 40% have primary education while the percentage of university graduates does not exceed 3%.  Findings also point out to a high unemployment rate amongst refugees reaching 68% amongst women and that they were forced to look for work in view of the absence of male heads of households in most families.  But despite these pressuring livelihoods, only 6% of the total surveyed women refugees, who are aged 15 and above, do actually work.  Of the total surveyed population, most work in the informal sector with 92% working without a contract and 56% working seasonally, weekly or on a daily basis.  Only 23% have regular monthly salaries while the average monthly income is estimated at LBP 418000 and that is 38% less than the official minimum wage. Furthermore, the study revealed that, generally, women are paid 40% less than men.

The study concludes with some recommendations and guidelines to ways to address challenges facing the livelihoods of Syrian displaced and their host communities and to improve work opportunities. These recommendations include 1) regulating the job market in order to avoid further deterioration of livelihoods, 2) creating new work opportunities through programmes such as food for work, local economic development, and the setting up of emergency work centres. Recommendations also include 1) drafting policies to strengthen institutional capacities so as to protect Syrian and Lebanese workers from exploitation, 2) highlighting the need to build capacities through skills training and broadening access to available information and statistics of the job market and 3) developing new programmes that focus on women, youth and children.
Source: Al-Hayat 3 April, Al-Akhbar 4 April 2014

To read the whole study, go to: Assessment of the Impact of Syrian Refugees in Lebanon and their Employment Profile

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