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May 2011

Research. Rethink. Resolve.

May 2011

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Women's Refugee Commission E-Newsletter

Dear ______,

This Mother’s Day we celebrate women everywhere and introduce our new initiative, Mama: Together for Safe Births in Crises.

Mama aims to save lives and improve maternal health in some of the world’s most forgotten places.

An astonishing 1,000 women die every single day from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. The vast majority of these deaths occur in countries that are either in, or are recovering from, conflict. Women in these settings face extreme risk and the few doctors and nurses there to treat them encounter multiple challenges, with little support. Our new initiative addresses this.

Mama: Together for Safe Births in Crises, launched in late April, aims to reduce maternal death and disability in crisis-affected settings by using social networking. Mama uses Facebook and text messaging to connect frontline health providers in disparate crisis-affected areas to one another and to experts. It is the first time that people will be able to post messages on Facebook through text messaging, which means that even those in remote locations without access to the Internet can participate in a Facebook-based community. Now, they can easily exchange knowledge, skills and advice.

As we reach out to expand the Mama community, we hope you will join us in our efforts to improve maternal health care and save countless lives. You can help by supporting women in the direst situations by making a gift today in the name of a mother or special woman in your life.

Thank you for your support and partnership.

Warm regards,
Sarah Costa's Signature
Sarah Costa
Executive Director



Voices of Courage Luncheon

2011 Voices of Courage Honorees
Voices of Courage Honorees Stella Mkiliwane, Monique Villa of Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Zrinka Bralo

Thank you to all who came to support our Voices of Courage Luncheon on May 3rd! It was a packed house at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York. This year’s theme was urban refugees, and our refugee honorees, Zrinka Bralo and Stella Mkiliwane, moved the audience with stories of their own displacement, survival and great courage in the face of extremely difficult circumstances. The Thomson Reuters Foundation received our corporate award for its humanitarian news service, AlertNet, which provides critical news and information on natural disasters, political conflicts and other crises. Our award presenters were award-winning leaders in their own fields—including actor, director and co-founder of the Women’s Refugee Commission, Liv Ullmann, actress Mamie Gummer and journalist Maria Hinojosa.

"Experience has taught me that improving the lives of women and girls—and unleashing their agency to act and advocate for themselves—is essential for achieving meaningful, sustainable change,” said WRC Executive Director Sarah Costa. “We hope you will partner with us to help refugee women and young people realize their talents and lead safe, healthy and productive lives."

We are happy to report that our luncheon raised $550,000, which will go toward supporting our work to help displaced and asylum-seeking women, children and youth.

On May 3rd, the Women's Refugee Commission also rang the New York Stock Exchange bell to highlight the plight of urban refugees and to recognize this year's Voices of Courage honorees. Watch the video!



Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict

The global network Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, which was co-founded in 2001 by the Women’s Refugee Commission and several other international organizations, has been integrated into our organization. Watchlist, which strives to end violations against children in armed conflicts and to guarantee their rights, has launched a new website and a report on conditions in the Central African Republic. Stay tuned for more updates on this critical work.



21 Leaders for the 21st Century

We are thrilled that Michelle Brané, director of our Detention and Asylum program, was honored as one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century at the Women’s eNews’ 10th anniversary gala on May 3rd in New York. Michelle was honored for her groundbreaking work on protecting women and children asylum seekers and immigrants. "Undocumented women in the United States have Michelle Brané in their corner, advocating for immigration policies that address their specific circumstances," said Women’s eNews.



Co-Winner of Disability Inclusion Award

The Women's Refugee Commission is co-winner of InterAction’s 2011 Disability Inclusion Award, which was established in collaboration with Mobility International USA in 2009 in honor of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. We released the first major report to address the critical needs of refugees and people displaced within their own countries who suffer from physical, sensory or mental disabilities. We also published a toolkit to guide humanitarian workers in their work with people with disabilities. This award recognizes members of InterAction, the umbrella group of U.S. humanitarian and development agencies, that have worked toward greater disability inclusion in programs and management and expanding leadership opportunities for people with disabilities.



In the News

The Mama: Together for Safe Births in Crises initiative was featured in blogs on Care2, Huffington Post, AlertNet and the UNFPA site, among others.

Michelle Brané was quoted in the Huffington Post article, "Prison Sexual Assault Reforms Won't Cover Immigrant Detention Centers."

The Financial Times published an ad (pro bono) about the Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon on May 4, 2011.