Go to Press Releases library
Press Releases

Ahead of UN conference on women, WRC calls on governments to uphold the rights of refugee women everywhere

New York, NY – Beginning today through March 25, 2022, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will hold its 66th session at United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. The CSW is an intergovernmental body of the UN’s Economic and Social Council tasked with the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. The priority theme of the session is “Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental, and disaster risk reduction policies and programs.”

Ahead of the CSW session, Sarah Costa, executive director of the Women’s Refugee Commission, issued the following statement:

“This year’s CSW priority theme on addressing the climate crisis could not be timelier. The climate crisis, in addition to being a driver of displacement, can both contribute to conflicts that cause displacement and exacerbate existing displacement. Land degradation, desertification, and rising sea levels have a devastating impact, such as the sinking of low-lying island states like the Maldives and the Marshall Islands, which could result in entire populations becoming stateless. Discriminatory laws, such as gender discrimination in nationality laws, heighten the risk of becoming stateless. The climate crisis can also increase factors like poverty that risk an increase of negative copying strategies, such as child marriage.

“Women environmental human rights defenders, especially Indigenous and refugee women, are leading the movement for climate justice, but face reprisals for their work and remain largely excluded from both decision-making on climate and financial resources.

“It is critical that world leaders not lose focus and genuinely address the human rights situation of displaced women and girls everywhere, including in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, South Sudan, and Yemen. At a time when the world watches in horror, yet again, how one man’s cruel ambitions of power bring suffering and displacement to millions of people, this time in Ukraine, efforts to champion gender equality must go beyond CSW and ministerial statements. The global support for women and children fleeing Ukraine is deeply heartening and we hope this continues once media coverage fades. We must remember, however, that everyone has the right to seek safety and be free from violence, regardless of their race, gender, faith, origin, or other factors. Discrimination, including racism, can be deadly in refugee responses, and we need solidarity and universal implementation of human rights for all.”