The current refugee situation in Denmark calls for new ways of welcoming and integrating refugees, which recognise the knowledge, skills and potential they bring. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) acknowledges three traditional sustainable solutions for refugees: voluntary repatriation, resettlement and local integration (UNHCR, 2011). This framework is widely accepted by other organisations and liberal states, including the International Organisation for Migration. UNHCR's five commitments to women refugees (2001) encourage the meaningful participation and economic empowerment of women. Current government statistics show that most refugees come from Syria and, although there are fewer women
than men seeking asylum, their numbers are significant (just over 3,000 in 2015). The highest proportion of women refugees from Syria are aged 20-29 years. Nearly 1,000 individuals in this age group came in 2015. Many of these women will seek to enter the labour market for the first time in Denmark. There are older women too (for example, approximately 500 individuals aged 40-50 years settled in 2015) who are likely to have relevant transferable skills. Refugees rarely arrive with documents proving their competences but nevertheless have knowledge and skills, which are relevant for Danish design, research and business. Previously, Danish NGOs and
social entrepreneurs, such as Place de Bleu, have attempted to use the skills of refugees for the production of textiles, for which they received funding from private Danish foundations. The outcome was positive for integration but without commercial success.
THREAD draws on these experiences to address the lack of employment opportunities for refugees. Currently, there are no radical or practical solutions to this problem. THREAD goes beyond the state of the art in significant ways by building a hub of visionary professionals around the theme of cultural and contemporary textiles and fashion to inspire and cultivate women refugees’ contribution to Danish civil and commercial life.
Vibeke Andersson and Helene Balslev Clausen are responsible for Work package 5: Evaluation.
Funded by Innovation Fund Denmark.
Time period: July 2017 to June 2020.