Study: How resettlement affects gender roles among Syrian refugees

Published March 1, 2023


Filomena M. Critelli

Filomena M. Critelli.

Congratulations to alumna Asli Cennet Yalim and Associate Professor Filomena Critelli on the publication of their study, "Gender roles among Syrian refugees in resettlement contexts: Revisiting empowerment of refugee women and needs of refugee men," in Women's Studies International Forum.

Yalim earned her PhD from the University at Buffalo School of Social Work in 2019 and now serves as an assistant professor in the University of Central Florida School of Social Work.


The study focuses on the impact of resettlement contexts on gender roles among Syrian refugees in Turkey and the United States.

Four semi-structured group interviews (N = 25) were conducted to understand how Syrian refugee women and men recast gender roles in their new environments, find new ways to adapt, and exercise agency. Gender roles are rearranged in culturally meaningful ways that do not necessarily follow commonly held assumptions regarding the process of empowerment, particularly the view that paid employment is the major path to agency and freedom from oppression for refugee women.

Findings emphasize the roles of local policies, resources and supports in shaping gender dynamics and suggest that contextual factors, culturally attained gender roles and lived experiences must be recognized to develop gender-sensitive interventions for Syrians. The findings also support interventions that are inclusive of men, especially young single men, and those that maximize social opportunities and eliminate discrimination.