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.

1989
January 1

1989

1989
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.
1990
January 1

1990

WRC helps craft the UN High Commission for Refugees’ (UNHCR) first-ever policy on the protection of refugee women.
1991
January 1

1991

Landmine Warning Sign
WRC is the first US organization to call for an international ban on the use of landmines.
1992
January 1

1992

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.
1993
January 1

1993

WRC coauthors Guidelines for Women’s Asylum Claims, a framework for analyzing and interpreting the claims of women asylum seekers.
1994
January 1

1994

1994
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.
1995
January 1

1995

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.
1996
January 1

1996

WRC successfully advocates for President Clinton to authorize a $5 million grant for a Bosnian Women’s Initiative.
1997
January 1

1997

1997
Our report Liberty Denied draws attention to the special concerns of asylum-seeking women held in US detention centers and WRC calls for fundamental reforms to immigration detention.
1998
January 1

1998

WRC advocacy results in new Immigration and Naturalization Service guidelines for the treatment and protection of children seeking asylum in the US.
1999
April 3

1999

WRC provides language to the new SPHERE Humanitarian Charter, which ensures that gender considerations are incorporated into all sectors of humanitarian response.
2000
January 1

2000

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.
2001
January 1

2001

2001
WRC co-sponsors, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the first-ever Global Consultation with Refugee Women. Following the consultation, UNHCR released the “Five Commitments to Refugee Women.”
2002
January 1

2002

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.
2003
January 1

2003

2003
WRC conducts first research on Minimum Initial Services Package for reproductive health in crises, which outlines a set of lifesaving activities to be implemented at the onset of an emergency.
2004
January 1

2004

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.
2005
January 1

2005

2005
Masculinities: Male Roles and Male Involvement in the Promotion of Gender Equality informs and influences UNHCR’s age, gender, and diversity mainstreaming (AGDM) in all its work.
2006
January 1

2006

2006
Beyond Firewood: Fuel Alternatives and Protection Strategies for Displaced Women and Girls is the first in-depth report on the sexual violence that women and girls face when they leave refugee camps to collect firewood.
2007
January 1

2007

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.
2008
January 1

2008

Two displaced young women with disabilities in Ethiopia.
Disabilities among Refugees and Conflict-affected Populations is the first global study on problems faced by refugees with disabilities.
2009
January 1

2009

2009
Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children changes its name to Women’s Refugee Commission. Building Livelihoods: A Field Manual for Practitioners in Humanitarian Settings is a first-of-its-kind manual to guide humanitarian agencies in providing economic opportunities for refugees.
2010
January 1

2010

WRC leads a coalition effort that results in the UNHCR Executive Committee adopting a Conclusion on Persons with Disabilities.
2011
January 1

2011

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.
2012
January 1

2012

WRC is among the first to document family planning use and knowledge in refugee settings in a multi-country study.
2013
January 1

2013

2013
WRC gives voice to stateless women through our first-of-its-kind research documenting how statelessness undermines women and their families’ protection and their access to basic services.
2014
April 3

2014

2014
WRC publishes a guide to help asylum seekers maintain custody of their children, available in English and Spanish, in every immigration detention center in the United States.
2015
January 1

2015

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.
2016
January 1

2016

2016
WRC successfully advocates for inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in World Humanitarian Summit commitments.
2017
January 1

2017

2017
WRC co-leads an advocacy effort that resulted in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reversing its proposal to separate families at the US-Mexico border to try to deter mothers and children from migrating and seeking asylum in the US.
2018
January 1

2018

2018
WRC, in collaboration with the NGO RefugePoint, launches the innovative Self-Reliance Index, which can measure changes in vulnerability and resilience over time and help assess whether humanitarian aid is making a difference in refugees’ lives.
2019
January 1

2019

2019
WRC publishes a series of groundbreaking reports exploring sexual violence against men and boys, and the impact of male sexual victimization on women and girls.