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Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Proud and Inspired: A Look at 2013 & 2014

2013 brought hardship for refugees and unprecedented challenges for those of us seeking to help them. But the year also held moments of success: discoveries, epiphanies, and achievements. Below, our staff have identified some of the Women's Refugee Commission’s biggest and brightest victories. And they've shared what we look forward to accomplishing in 2014.


I'm so very proud of our project to help community health workers better care for survivors of sexual violence. Community health workers are often the first point at which we can reach and help survivors, so it's critical that they know how to work with the special needs of someone who has experienced sexual trauma. On behalf of UNICEF, we finalized a training tool that will be used in South Sudan and Somalia in pilot projects next month. 

In 2014, I’m excited to take our research on girls’ reproductive health to the next step—and to three more countries. We’ll be looking at the needs and risks of very young adolescents—a topic that has been broadly ignored—in Ethiopia, Thailand, and Lebanon in partnership with the CDC. 
~ Sandra Krause, Director, Sexual & Reproductive Health


I was proud to join a team of local Filipinos and international aid workers responding to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Working with local businesses and organizations, I surveyed the damage to markets, livelihoods, homes, and families. Together, we found opportunities to restore self-sufficiency to the most affected women and men in the town of Basey. I was proud to see such hope and strength. These dignified, capable people were ready to restart their work if provided just the most basic tools and support. 

Next year, I am very excited to provide some real-world proof that livelihood programs in emergencies can be built to protect, and that they can be sensitive to the specific needs of both men and women. I'll be embedded in a partner NGO, Action Contre la Faim, and I'll build on their existing livelihoods programs and focus on gender-based violence and protection. 
~ Ann Lee Young, Senior Program Officer, Livelihoods in Emergencies


I’m proud of our research on access to cooking fuel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country that has perhaps the highest rate of sexual violence in the world. Even more so, I’m proud that our recommendations based on those findings were implemented through our partnership with the International Rescue Committee: 2,250 fuel-efficient stoves were distributed to this community, potentially lowering risk for thousands of women who no longer have to risk attack while looking for cooking fuel.

In 2014, we’re banding together with other leaders to take a great leap forward: ensuring that safe access to fuel and energy is part of every humanitarian response—much like shelter, health, or water and sanitation. As part of this, we will develop an information hub alongside the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, and create a training package for field staff, along with several other partners. 
~ Megan Gerrard, Senior Gender-Based Violence Prevention Officer


I’m proud that we gave voice to stateless women through our research. For the first time, we documented how statelessness undermines women and their families’ protection and their access to basic services. These women had a chance to share their knowledge and their needs—and we had a chance to learn exactly what the problem is and how we can fix it. 

Next year, we look forward to launching a global campaign to eliminate gender discrimination in nationality laws. By attacking these destructive and archaic laws, we can reduce statelessness around the world and give women and their children a chance at safer, more just lives. 
~ Dale Buscher, Senior Director for Programs


For years, the WRC has been advocating for the prevention of gender-based violence from the very start of a crisis. In 2013, I was delighted to see the U.S. government highlight prevention in its new Safe from the Start initiative. I was also gratified by November’s Call to Action on violence against women and girls in humanitarian emergencies. In it, various governments, UN agencies and NGOs—including the WRC—emphasized prevention and response.

In the coming year, I’m excited to complete and roll out our gender assessment of the Syrian refugee response. What we’ve learned there will be critical to humanitarian workers at Syria’s borders and worldwide, helping them to better integrate gender into program design and assessment, and ultimately, to reduce gender-based violence. 
~ Joan Timoney, Senior Director of Advocacy and External Relations


I’m tremendously proud of helping to develop the “Risk Classification Assessment,” which helps to identify vulnerable immigrant detainees and to determine whether detention is necessary. We hope it will lead to less detention, more alternatives to detention, and more families staying together. What’s more, we have been traveling around the world in response to foreign governments’ interest in learning about the model and how to replicate it, a sign of massive potential to expand.

In 2014, I’m most looking forward to putting our guide to help immigrant parents maintain custody of their children in every single immigration detention center in the United States. Right now, detained parents can lose their children completely in a labyrinth of Catch-22s. However, Immigrations & Customs Enforcement has agreed to put a copy of our guide in each of their facilities. And through this guide, we'll help parents navigate the system to protect their families. 
~ Michelle Brané, Director, Migrant Rights and Justice Program


I’m proud of our work on the new tool “Children and Economic Strengthening Programs: Maximizing Benefits and Minimizing Harm.” On past research missions, child protection workers across the globe have told me that what they need most is help making their livelihoods programs better and safer for children. Right away, this guide became one of WRC's most popular downloads ever.

Next year, we're doing some cutting-edge research in Burkina Faso to figure out how the world’s poorest children are helped and hurt by economic programs. We've always wanted to do very rigorous “gold standard” research in a humanitarian emergency setting, but it's not usually possible. Next year, we’re helping make it happen, and a lot of people are watching for the results of this study. 
~ Josh Chaffin, Senior Program Officer, Economic Strengthening and Child Protection


I’m very proud of our pilot programs, which reached 529 adolescent girls Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. We worked with the girls themselves to see what kind of knowledge, skills, and activities they need to earn a safe living in the future. Then we brought many of these ideas to life in the safe spaces we created for them. 
~ Kate Paik, Program Officer, Adolescent Girls

In 2014, I’m very excited to start a new chapter on girls’ needs in acute emergencies. Girls often lack the resources, skills, and networks that help others to cope with crisis—so we’re finding out what their needs are and what solutions are best. Then we’re making sure that humanitarian actors have girls on their radar, and that they know how to help them survive and thrive. 
~ Omar Robles, Senior Program Officer, Adolescent Girls in Emergencies


I’m proud that the Women's Refugee Commission’s advocacy helped inform the UN Security Council’s newest resolution on Women, Peace and Security. The resolution aims to ensure that women and girls have much-needed access to livelihood services, comprehensive reproductive health care, and equal citizenship rights—all priority areas of our research and advocacy.

As the Millennium Development Goals are set to expire in 2015, I look forward to vigorously advocating to ensure that the new set of goals put the needs and capacities of crisis-affected women, children and youth front and center.
~ Elizabeth Cafferty, Senior Advocacy Officer


I am proud to have provided technical support on protecting persons with disabilities in the Syrian crisis. I am also grateful for the opportunity to identify and highlight the strongest field programs. I truly appreciate and admire the work of our partners, hosts, and refugee communities—all of whom are responding to this very complex crisis.

In 2014, I am looking forward to working with and learning from women and girls with disabilities, as well as our humanitarian partners, as we test programs. Together, we'll work to improve the inclusion of persons with disabilities in gender-based violence programs in humanitarian settings. I am excited that we are continuing to support humanitarian actors and refugees at field levels, and in doing so, adding to knowledge across the sector.
~ Emma Pearce, Senior Program Officer, Disability

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence