The Women’s Refugee Commission has worked for more than 30 years to protect and improve the lives of refugee women, children, and youth around the world.
Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) (then the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children) is founded by Liv Ullmann, Catherine O’Neill, Susan Stark Alberti, and Susan Forbes Martin, with Mary Anne Schwalbe as the founding director. The Afghan Women’s Social Service Center, offering training and literacy programs to refugees in Pakistan, is founded following WRC’s first delegation to Pakistan, when Afghan women expressed a desperate need for such services.
WRC helps craft the UN High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR) first-ever policy on the protection of refugee women.
WRC reports that rape is being used as a weapon of war in the Balkans following a mission to Bosnia and Croatia, the first organization to do so.
WRC coauthors Guidelines for Women’s Asylum Claims, a framework for analyzing and interpreting the claims of women asylum seekers.
Our landmark report Refugee Women and Reproductive Health Care: Reassessing Priorities is released, and the findings are advocated at the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development. The next year, WRC helps launch and coordinates the Reproductive Health Response in Crises Consortium and becomes a leading member of a global working group to promote reproductive health in humanitarian settings.
WRC plays a critical role in developing guidelines released by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service to recognize rape, domestic abuse, and sexual violence against women as potential grounds for asylum.
WRC successfully advocates for President Clinton to authorize a $5 million grant for a Bosnian Women’s Initiative.
WRC advocacy results in new Immigration and Naturalization Service guidelines for the treatment and protection of children seeking asylum in the US.
WRC provides language to the new SPHERE Humanitarian Charter, which ensures that gender considerations are incorporated into all sectors of humanitarian response.
WRC advocates for passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, the first-ever Security Council resolution to address the devastating impact of war on women.
If Not Now, When? Addressing Gender-based Violence in Refugee, Internally Displaced and Post-conflict Settings, the first major report on gender-based violence in these settings, highlights gaps and needs, leading to a five-year initiative to address them.
Our Global Survey on Education in Emergencies examines the massive gaps in education for refugee children around the world and leads to the creation of a global network to address these gaps.
Locking Up Family Values: The Detention of Immigrant Families exposes the US government’s practice of detaining immigrant families and results in a significant reduction in the use of family detention.
WRC leads a coalition effort that results in the UNHCR Executive Committee adopting a Conclusion on Persons with Disabilities.
WRC publishes Preventing Gender-based Violence, Building Livelihoods: Guidance and Tools for Improved Programming, the first report on how to make economic programs safe for refugee women.
WRC is among the first to document family planning use and knowledge in refugee settings in a multi-country study.
WRC becomes a lead partner in the global “Call to Action on Prevention from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies” and leads a process to develop a “Road Map” for 2016–2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic upends the lives of people globally. WRC pivots its way of working to ensure its mission continues uninterrupted. This includes collaborating with partners to bridge the gap between affected populations and local organizations in the field.