Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Stephanie Hartzell


Daniel Alsandor


Lopita Nath


James Simpson


With Africa holding 26% of the world’s refugees, it is critical to understand the educational opportunities that are accessible for refugees, especially in the context of African women who are historically excluded as the primary target for education (UNHCR, 2018a).Despite the policies and institutional commitment to education for the refugee population, there is little evidence to ensure quality, or access to education, at the regional or local levels. For women and young girls in displacement, access to education is particularly limited to the secondary level (UNHCR, 2011a).In response to the need for quality education for refugee women, Malawi’s vocational training and secondary education institutions have centered on activities to increase opportunities for formal secondary education of both refugee and Malawian women (UNESCO, 2008). As opportunity and awareness of quality secondary education for refugee women becomes more prevalent, there is a need to understand how these programs have influenced their sense of livelihood. For these reasons, this study explored the individual experiences of African refugee women focusing on how their experiences in completing a vocational training program have influenced their lives in terms of self-efficacy and empowerment in creating a livelihood.

Findings of this study revealed participant livelihood experiences were influenced in varying degrees as a result of their vocational training. Vocational training was perceived by participants as a positive influence on livelihood capabilities as well as their positive feelings of self-efficacy and empowerment. However, education alone was only part of these outcomes, as other experiences of relationship building, creating alternative solutions for income-producing activities, and sharing their knowledge also influenced their feelings of self-efficacy and empowerment.