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  • Changing How We Define Success: In Pursuit of #BetterLivesNow for Refugees

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    This blog was cross-posted from Medium.

    A young woman living in a desolate refugee camp, spending hours waiting on line for rations of food and medicine. Flimsy plastic tents stretching as far as the eye can see.

    These are some of the more recognizable images that come to mind when one thinks of refugees. These images are real, and are an important part of the humanitarian challenge and response. Yet with more refugees than ever living in cities rather than camp settings, often for as long as a decade or two, today’s refugee experience can look quite different.

    Out of Excuses: The Time is Now to Bring Women with Disabilities into Humanitarian Response

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    This blog was cross-posted from Medium.

    When a population is seen as vulnerable, the immediate instinct of the development and humanitarian community often is to protect. But what if, instead of protection, the instinct was to include, to engage, and to leverage people’s skills and capacities?

    Groundbreaking Arab League declaration heightens global momentum to end gender discrimination in nationality laws

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    This blog was cross-posted from the European Network on Statelessness.

    Amid the tragedy and uncertainty of today’s global challenges, there have been several important developments in the fight for gender equality in the past year. Importantly, these wins do more than advance gender justice; they help to address the root causes of some of the greatest challenges we face today. From the reform of rape laws in Jordan and Lebanon, to the banning of child marriage in Malawi, women’s long-awaited right to drive in Saudi Arabia, the increasingly international #MeToo movement to combat gender-based harassment and violence, Iceland’s new pay equality law, and women’s marches around the world, demanding equality and rejecting misogynist political leaders; women and men are demanding an end to discriminatory laws and practices, and creating a more just, secure, and peaceful world as they do it. This is especially true of the fight to end gender discrimination in nationality laws, which has seen momentum for reform building in multiple regions, and notable progress achieved in the past year.

    Getting Cash Right for Women Refugees

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    This blog was cross-posted from Medium.

    Everyone is talking about cash these days. Cash assistance is being significantly scaled up across the humanitarian system as the preferred modality of assistance, where markets allow. And rightly so. Cash is known to enable household choice and dignity; it is faster to deliver; cash transfers can be more efficiently delivered than in-kind assistance (like tarps, mattresses, bags of rice, or maize); and assists local economies in recovering from shocks. All the big operational players — UNHCR, International Rescue Committee, World Vision, are increasing the proportion of assistance they deliver via cash transfers. As these cash providers zip forward on this cash bus, they must get the foundation right.

    We’ve Come A Long Way

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    This blog was cross-posted from Medium.

    Earlier this month, more than 200 sexual and reproductive health (SRH) professionals — from 50 countries and 100 agencies — gathered in Athens, Greece, for the 17th Meeting of the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG) on Reproductive Health in Crises. By contrast, my first IAWG meeting, in 2013, was so small that we opened the meeting by having each attendee stand up and introduce themselves and their respective agencies. IAWG has come a long way in the last four years alone, and as I stood in front of 220 SRH colleagues, champions, advocates, and allies at the opening of this year’s meeting, its transformation could not have been more apparent.

    Our Detention System Is Broken.

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    This blog was cross-posted from Medium.

    “…I know I lost all my rights when I arrived to this country. … It does not seem right to me that, knowing if a person is returned, she will be killed, that the U.S. returns the person anyway.” Rosa, Detained in El Paso

    It does not seem right to us at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) either. The United States should be a country where rights are protected, not taken away.

    Girl Data & An Inconvenient Truth

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    This blog was cross-posted from Medium.

    Empowering girls before, during, and after crisis. That’s this year’s theme for International Day of the Girl. At the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), it’s far more than a theme; it’s what we dedicate ourselves to achieving, every day. Part of that commitment means identifying where we — the international community — are failing and where we need to get it right.

    Prison for Survivors

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    This blog was cross-posted from Medium.

    Earlier this year, a woman named Clara arrived at the United States border seeking protection from gender-based harm she faced in West Africa. She had endured an arduous journey trying to reach the U.S. border, where officials registered her claim for asylum. Rather than release her to pursue her case, however, officials sent Clara into the vast network of immigration detention facilities across the U.S. Since arriving in this country, she has been treated like a criminal, shackled and transferred multiple times between different detention facilities, awaiting a final decision on her request for protection that will determine her fate.

    Celebrating Ten Years of Disability Work at WRC

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    “I think it is important to share with you that I am a woman who has a disability. This doesn’t stop me though... I feel I have a very important job to do. I am working to make women and girls safer… those who are not always included in activities, those who are often forgotten about. I can remember times when that was me... Now, I am very active, I am a leader in our community… and I work as a social worker. I feel I have valuable things to add and that I can advocate for [them] because I understand their needs.” (Mieraf, My’ani Camp)

    The Trump Administration’s Immigration Policies Target Women and Children

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    Recent news stories have detailed how President Trump’s immigration policies continue to target women and children and rip families apart. He has instructed US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel to arrest, detain, and deport indiscriminately.

    Just this week, two brothers in Maryland – one a 19-year old rising soccer star who had just secured a college scholarship – were deported after one of them made a courtesy call to ICE to inform officials about his college plans. Earlier this year, a mother of three children – all U.S. citizens – who had fled the drug cartel violence in Mexico, was whisked away from her home and family in Ohio by ICE officials and deported. And, just last week, President Trump elevated John F. Kelly from secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to White House chief of staff, applauding him for his “tremendous results” in implementing the refugee ban and ramping up immigration enforcement.