English proficiency is the single most important self-help device for refugee women in the United States, according to numerous studies. Studies further show that across the spectrum of immigrants and refugees, more women than men are unable to speak any English, have fewer prospects for jobs outside a sheltered “immigrant enclave,” and are more likely to stay sheltered away from the broader community for the lack of English proficiency.
English proficiency is just the start of what Women of the World (WoW) hopes will be a lifetime of learning. WoW helps women refugees to begin their education or continue their profession by obtaining the correct licenses in America. For many of our women clients, the opportunity to get an education is the first time they have stepped out on their own and learned in the humanities, arts, health, or engineering. We work to improve the individual educational needs of each of our clients.
Our volunteers make their biggest difference with recent refugees in the education program. When a volunteer tutors in English, they give women a voice, the voice to communicate to their children, the ability to advocate for themselves in healthcare, and help in becoming part of their community. As women develop their skills, they become more self-confident, able to improve in their parenting and to step into the community to find a job. Women of the World also will teach them to give back, to use this newfound self-esteem to step into a more active role in the community and help others. In this way education comes full circle back to service and teaching.