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  • Hänninen, Milla (2018)
    Questions regarding labour market integration are becoming more prominent in Finland with rising numbers of immigrants. The Nordic welfare model has chosen the labour market as a focal point of integration because of it being a crucial arena for equality, freedom and for the integration process as a whole. Even though measures have been taken to improve immigrants labour market situation, the gap in the unemployment rates between immigrants and persons with Finnish background is still prominent. The situation is especially weak for immigrant women, who on average have a 17% lower employment rate than women with Finnish background. Immigrant women have been identified as a group that require extensive measures to improve their position in the labour market. This study is an attempt to generate more research in the area by highlighting immigrant women’s agency in the integration processes, especially focusing on labour market transitions and challenges connected to these transitions. A qualitative research design was chosen so that focus could be put on the lived experiences of the women and on interpreting their viewpoints and stories. Semi-structured interviews were used as a data collection method to be able to look deeper into the individual and personal narratives of eight first-generation immigrant women. The results demonstrate that the women have experienced many different transitions between positions in the labour market. These positions were often unstable and constantly changing, such positions were for example being on maternity leave, combining part-time work with studies or being unemployed. Furthermore, the results show that the biggest challenges encountered are connected to entering the labour market. Lack of sufficient language skills, being met with discriminatory behaviour and problems connected to transferring skills were some of the recognized problem areas. Some of the encountered challenges had momentarily felt like hindering barriers, but in the end, they turned out to be manageable obstacles that could be overcome and after all lead to successful outcomes. This study contributes to the pool of research concerning immigrant women, confirming and reinforcing previous research in the area. Policymakers should take vulnerable groups, such as immigrant women, better into consideration and further develop policies that enhance their labour market situation.