Abstract: Exploring the Impact of Immigration on Gender Role Negotiations, and Expectations Related to Marital Satisfaction Among Cameroonian-Born Living in the United States (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Exploring the Impact of Immigration on Gender Role Negotiations, and Expectations Related to Marital Satisfaction Among Cameroonian-Born Living in the United States

Friday, January 13, 2023
Laveen B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Agnes Nzomene Kahouo Foda, MSW, PhD Student, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Background and Purpose: Immigration is gendered, and it shapes marital outcomes. In recent decades, the distribution of Sub-Saharan African Immigrants in the United States has increased with an estimated 78,000 Cameroonian-born currently living in the in the country (Echeverria-Estrada, & Batalova, 2019). Their immigration experiences in the US are sparsely represented in literature and with few exceptions. Current research does not address the impact of immigration gender expectations, and gender role negotiations among Cameroonian-born living in the US. It is important to explore the impact of immigration on marital satisfaction due to apparent cultural values/norms differences in the host country versus the country of origin.

This study investigates how migrating from Cameroon to the US shaped individuals’ gender role negotiations and expectations in relations to their marital satisfaction during immigration experience. Furthermore, it examines whether the socio-cultural norm/values and practices of the new country of residence might affect the way Cameroonian-born think about their original personal, cultural, and traditional practices while they adapt to a new environment.

Methods: The study utilized a qualitative phenomenological approach to understand and describe the participants lived experiences. Eligible participant most have been married in Cameroon before migration. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, including questions about the perceptions and experiences of gender role negotiations and expectations among Cameroonian-born in immigration. Interviews lasted between 30-60 minutes. A purposive sampling approach was used through refugee resettlement agencies and faith-based organization in Columbia, South Carolina. The data were audio-recorded in English and French, transcribed, translated, and interpreted in English using Rev.com. Data were coded using a thematic analysis using NVivo.

Results: Ten participants were interviewed (5 males, and 5 females). The study illustrates the impact of immigration on gender role negotiations and expectations on marital satisfaction. All female participants reported being particularly happy to learn that they have their individual purpose in live, and they were now free to make their own decisions. Three (3) of the male participants reported that immigration has enforced their desire to empower women and girls as their wives now also contribute financially to the family well-being. On the other hand, two (2) of the male participants reported that women were no longer taking care of them or their home, and were less likely to support them in achieving their dreams.

Conclusions & Implications: The findings indicate that immigration has had a particularly negative impact gender role negotiations and expectations among Cameroonian-born who were married before migration. Additionally, findings revealed that international migration has potentially affected the gender role dynamic as well as caused some marriage dissolution among Cameroonian-born during their immigration experiences. This study is important because it helped generate new knowledge, that will contribute to creating culturally relevant social work practice and services to support Cameroonian-born immigrants in the U.S. without weakening their original traditional and cultural norms/values. It will concurrently inform a more profound study on immigrants from other African countries living in the U.S., and immigrants globally.