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  • Protecting Women Refugees As Part Of International Women’s Day

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    International Women’s Day, is a global celebration of women everywhere. It is a rallying call—both for reflection on how far we’ve come, and for accelerating momentum towards gender equality. Core to achieving our agenda is the prevention of all forms of violence against women. Despite notable progress over the decades, thousands of women have recently been dealt a serious and potentially deadly setback: The women who are refugees and asylum seekers looking to the U.S. for safety and protection.

    Violence against women is still endemic, and this is particularly the case in humanitarian crises. It cannot be overstated: Women who are fleeing conflict and persecution face heightened risks of gender-based violence, including sexual assault, early and forced marriage, female genital cutting, trafficking and exploitation. Such pervasive violence incurs very high costs for individual women, their families, and their communities. It stymies progress to achieving gender equality and internationally agreed upon development goals.

    On the campaign trail, President Trump promised to “protect women” and stated, “I love women. I respect women. I cherish women.”

    About a Boy: One Refugee’s Tale about Being Barred from Entering the United States

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    Imagine a boy, 13 or 14, dashing home from school, his mother there to greet him and give him a quick snack before he rushes back out to kick the soccer ball with his friends in the dusty street. Like most boys that age, he spends the requisite time on school work but lives for those precious hours after school and before dinner to spend with his friends.  His body is changing. His interests are evolving. His world is full of possibility. 

    The Violence of Gender Discrimination in Nationality Laws

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    Upon first glance, gender-based violence (GBV) and laws pertaining to citizenship may seem worlds apart. In fact, there are significant links between women’s nationality rights and GBV – links that must be recognized and addressed to combat the root causes of gender-based violence.

    Nationality laws determine the ability to acquire, change, and retain one’s citizenship, as well as the ability to pass citizenship to children and non-national spouses. Though traditionally the nationality of wives and children was based on the nationality of the husband/father, over the 20th century most countries reformed their nationality laws (and gave women the right to vote!), enabling women and men to confer citizenship on an equal basis.

    However, today 27 countries still deny mothers the equal right to confer nationality on their children. Roughly 50 countries maintain other gender-discriminatory provisions in their nationality laws, such as denying women the right to equally confer nationality on spouses, or stripping women of their citizenship due to their marital status.  

    Women Need Safe Livelihood Opportunities in the Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

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    Recently Hurricane Matthew pummeled Haiti with brutal wind and rain, leaving the country and its people reeling from yet another disaster. Not yet fully recovered from the horrific 2010 earthquake, Haiti now faces difficult years ahead rebuilding infrastructure, homes, and livelihoods.

    Foni Joyce: Full Remarks at UN Summit for Refugee and Migrants

    Photo credit: Marcy Hersh
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    On Monday, September 19, 2016, Foni Joyce, a young South Sudanese refugee woman and participant in the Global Refugee Youth Consultations led by Women's Refugee Commission and UNHCR, addressed world leaders at the first high-level summit focused on “Addressing the Large Movements of Refugees” at the 71st UN General Assembly. Her full remarks are available below.

    tags: Women, Youth

    Voiceless No More: Honoring Refugee Youth on World Humanitarian Day

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    On this World Humanitarian Day when record numbers of people have been forced to flee for their lives and humanitarian workers are also under siege, it is hard to find reason for hope. But we don't have to look far.

    tags: Children, Youth

    “Working to improve our own futures”: Strengthening Networks of Women with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action

    Refugee women and girls with disabilities participate in a planning workshop with  UNHCR and partners in Bangladesh (c) WRC/Emma Pearce
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    More than 60 million people have been forced to flee their homes because of violence and conflict; at least 9 million of them are likely to be persons with disabilities. The vast majority of people displaced by conflict are women, children, and youth.

    Over and over, we see that humanitarian crises result in enormous risks to women and girls in the form of rape, assault, intimate partner violence, early marriage, and all forms of exploitation.

    The risks, dangers, and challenges are worse for displaced women and girls with disabilities.

    tags: Disabilities

    António Guterres: A Voice of Courage for Refugee Women & Children

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    “Fight for a world where women and girls are respected in their homes, schools, workplaces, and communities, where they can walk freely, without fear.” This was a call to governments and humanitarian organizations by António Guterres, while the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Cho Lay Mar: A Voice of Courage in Myanmar

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    Cho Lay Mar is a tireless advocate for internally displaced minority women in her native Myanmar (also known as Burma). Although decades of internal conflict have ended, and the country now has a democratically elected government, displaced women have very hard lives, Cho Lay Mar says.

    Cho Lay Mar’s father was Pakistani, and she grew up aware of her “mixed blood.” She strongly believes people are the same. “I am always concerned with how we can live harmoniously,” she says. After she graduated, Cho Lay Mar became a teacher in a government school, where she imparted the idea of peaceful co-existence to her ethnically diverse students.

    Mina Jaf, a Voice of Courage for Refugees in Europe

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    Mina Jaf was a refugee from the day she was born – in the midst of a chemical gas attack on her village in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1988. She fled with her family over the mountains to Iran and over the next 11 years, they went back and forth between the two countries, often spending no more than one night in the same place.

    Pretending to be asleep, the young Mina listened to refugees from Bosnia, Somalia, and Rwanda tell their horrific stories of rape and domestic violence. She understood that they risked stigmatization and shame if their experiences became common knowledge.

    Mina grew up determined to fight for the rights of all refugee women.