There are currently more than 42 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide who have been displaced by conflict. Of these, 80% are women, children and young people and 26 million are IDPs. Every year, between 10 million and 40 million people are displaced by natural disasters.
Through research and fact-finding field missions, we identify critical problems that affect displaced women, children and young people, including gaps in lifesaving reproductive health care, lack of dignified livelihoods for refugees and, in the U.S., the treatment of asylum-seekers. We document best practices and propose solutions, and develop innovative tools to improve the way humanitarian assistance is delivered in refugee settings. On Capitol Hill, at the United Nations and with humanitarian organizations, governments and donors, we push for improvements in refugee policy and practice until measurable long-term change is realized.
Our mission is to improve the lives and protect the rights of women, children and youth displaced by conflict and crisis. We research their needs, identify solutions and advocate for programs and policies to strengthen their resilience and drive change in humanitarian practice.
The Women's Refugee Commission has a diverse professional staff of 25. The Women's Refugee Commission's board of directors and advisors include women working at senior levels in human rights and refugee organizations, as well as in education, medicine, law, journalism, government relations and communications. Many are former refugees. Our organization was founded in 1989 by Liv Ullmann, Catherine O'Neill, Susan Martin and others. The Women’s Refugee Commission is affiliated with and is legally part of the International Rescue Committee, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, but does not receive direct financial support from the IRC.
The Women's Refugee Commission is an expert resource and advocacy organization that monitors the care and protection of refugee women and children. We speak out on issues of concern to refugee and displaced women, children and adolescents, who have a critical perspective in bringing about change but often do not have access to governments and policy makers. We also provide opportunities for refugee women and youth to speak for themselves through briefings, testimony, participation in field assessments and international conferences.
The Women's Refugee Commission serves as a watchdog and an expert resource, offering solutions and providing technical assistance. Staff and board members carry out an active program of advocacy, making recommendations on how to improve assistance to refugee women and children to policy makers in the United States government and UN agencies, and to NGOs.
Professional staff--experts in health care, anthropology, gender, children and refugee law--travel to refugee camps, detention centers and other areas where there are thousands of displaced families to conduct field research, technical training and convene meetings. In addition, the Women's Refugee Commission sends fact-finding delegations of professionals to meet with refugee women and children around the world and learn firsthand of their needs and conditions. Recent delegations have traveled to Jordan, southern Sudan, Colombia, Liberia and Thailand.
The Women's Refugee Commission is a member of many humanitarian organizations and has operational partners with which we work to carry out our work. Learn more.