Women’s Economic Power

The Women’s Economic Power (WEP) initiative aims to dismantle the systemic barriers faced by immigrant women, including immigrant women of color, transgender women, and gender nonconforming persons, to realize their economic power* * Women are economically empowered when they possess the skills, resources, and agency to succeed, shape their choices and make economic decisions. This includes fair access to resources needed to assert full control over their lives, including income, healthcare, credit, and childcare. and have equitable access to employment opportunities.

Upwardly Global’s community faces multiple identity-related barriers, including color, migration, gender, and social status, hindering socioeconomic equity.

Immigrant women face systemic obstacles and societal norms that limit their ability to assume leadership roles, influence decision-making, and generate wealth. Immigrant women encounter restricted access to affordable childcare, occupational segregation*, rigid gender roles, and limited career services.

Half of U.S. families report difficulty finding childcare. Mothers unable to find childcare programs are significantly less likely to be employed, while fathers’ employment is unaffected. Childcare is the primary barrier to career access for immigrant women, cited by 43.5% of women participants as the leading cause of dropout in Upwardly Global’s Career Coaching program.

Despite more than one in three immigrant women holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, they are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs, less likely to occupy professional roles, and more prone to live in poverty compared to their U.S.-born counterparts.

The U.S. faces a $122 billion annual productivity loss due to infant-toddler childcare issues, with their impact on families, businesses, and taxpayers nearly doubling since 2018.

Without safe spaces and community resources, immigrant women encounter substantial hurdles, compounded by familial duties and time constraints, that hinder their professional advancement and perpetuate the cycle of economic disadvantage.

To foster a more inclusive workforce, we aim to create pathways to economic power by supporting immigrant women in accessing gender-sensitive online and self-paced training programs, scholarships, networking events, and peer-to-peer support platforms. These initiatives aim to guide immigrant women through a successful job search journey and support them in securing positions in thriving-wage jobs.

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In 2021, Farzana fled Afghanistan for the United States with nothing but her education documents.

In Afghanistan, she spent years getting an MBA and later worked for the USAID’s biggest women’s empowerment project in the world. Now, alongside Upwardly Global CEO Jina Krause-Vilmar, she shares her journey of escaping the Taliban and rebuilding a new life as a woman and refugee in the U.S.

Read stories of immigrant, refugee, and asylee women who have broken barriers to inclusion with support from Upwardly Global.

At Upwardly Global, we’re dedicated to building a resilient workforce, ensuring it’s inclusive for immigrant women from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Gendered barriers affect us all, and our mission tackles these head-on through:

Upwardly Global has a successful track record of building and uplifting the skills of immigrant women — many of whom are less likely to access professional roles — boosting their average income by over $55,000 per year. Currently, 55% of job seekers we serve are women ready to make their mark.

We’re on the frontlines, advocating for policies that ensure women aren’t left behind. With strong networks spanning employers, government leaders, and workforce partners, our goal is clear: provide women with the tools, opportunities, and services they need to succeed.

It’s time for a sociocultural shift in how we value and invest in women’s contributions, which entails building the essential infrastructure they require to thrive. In pursuit of this transformation, Upwardly Global is mobilizing coalitions, stakeholders, and national leaders to lift the economic power of immigrant women.

As the leading U.S. entity working with immigrant, refugee, and asylee professionals, 60% of whom identify as people of color and 50% of whom come from refugee backgrounds, Upwardly Global is uniquely positioned to support this community in rebuilding their lives and careers in their newly adopted home.

Be part of the change — sign up for our newsletter to engage with our advocacy work.

Dive deep into our strategies — learn more about our three-pronged approach toward our WEP objectives.

Learn about our impact — read our 2023 accomplishments on workforce development.

“We know that women face extra hurdles in the job market, but too many programs ignore this. Upwardly Global intends to lead by example. The path to equality is not paved by intentions alone but by actions, by transformative programs, and by policies that do not just aim to include but to elevate. We know that our communities are made richer by the hands of immigrant women, women of color, who bring not just their skills, but their resilience, their stories, and their hopes for a better future.

Upwardly Global is setting a new standard for ourselves, changing the game not just in programs and policies, but in shifting perceptions. Culturally, women’s labor is undervalued and the investments we make in our workforce reflect that. This isn’t just about redesigning our programs or eliminating barriers in policy; it’s also about shifting how we value women.”

- Jina Krause-Vilmar, President and CEO