The Pennsylvania Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Network, or PAIRWN, was founded in May 2001 when ten women from diverse backgrounds came together to assist one another in taking leadership roles within their communities.
They saw a need for newly arriving women to gain skills and self-confidence for a successful transition to a new life.
In August 2001, six of these women attended a conference hosted by the National Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Network. Through skills gained at the conference and monthly meetings, PAIRWN began responding to the needs of women and making a difference in our communities.
Our Early Years
As the first organization in Pennsylvania to focus directly on immigrant and refugee women’s issues, PAIRWN has a crucial and ground-breaking mission. Our members’ diverse experiences and cultures form a rich resource from which we draw to reach our goals.
PAIRWN has been featured in numerous local publications, including Harrisburg Magazine, WE Magazine, and BusinessWoman. PAIRWN board members have been invited to speak at numerous local colleges and universities and at regular meetings and special events of many nonprofit and government-related organizations.
From 2001 to 2006, our board focused on identifying and serving the needs of immigrant and refugee women through resource referrals and face-to-face support, creating bonds of trust and mutual communication between our board, our members, and the broader community. For the first four years, we had no official budget or grants to support us, but relied on the generosity of volunteers who gave their time as well as small financial donations. We earned our first official grant in 2005 from the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.