• August 2012

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    August 2012

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    Making work safe

    Women who have been displaced by conflict or disaster—both those living in camps and those living in cities—need opportunities to develop marketable skills so they can become self-reliant and support themselves and their families. While aid agencies increasingly focus on economic initiatives for women, they don’t often consider the risks women face when working—risks like coming home late at night through deserted streets, handling harassment from their bosses or facing resentment and domestic violence from their spouses.

    The Women’s Refugee Commission has made ensuring displaced women have safe work opportunities a top priority and recently launched a campaign “Peril or Protection: Making Work Safe.” We have developed a number of tools for those working in the field and leading programs to do this, including the Preventing Gender-based Violence, Building Livelihoods e-learning tool, and we recently held a webinar on the topic. You can watch the webinar recording here. We will also be featuring a blogger series and publishing a question of the week. Follow the conversation on twitter at #SafeLivelihoods.


    A young Ethiopian girl who escaped an early marriage and is pursuing her education.

    Every day, more than 25,000 girls under the age of 18 are married worldwide—usually with little say in the matter. Marrying young has a devastating impact on their lives—and the lives of their families—in so many ways. Early marriage not only increases the chances that girls will drop out of school and miss the opportunity to develop skills and obtain work, it threatens their health. Young married women are at increased risk of pregnancy-related complications, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

    Legislation to help stop the early marriage of girls globally was recently reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Betty McCollum (D-MN). The International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act declares early marriage a human rights abuse and establishes ending early marriage as a U.S. foreign policy goal. The millions of girls displaced by war and conflict are particularly vulnerable; this bill will help protect them and increase the odds that they will go to school and lead a better life.

    TAKE ACTION: Please contact your Representative today to urge passage of this critically-needed legislation.

    Learn more about our Strong Girls, Powerful Women campaign and make a donation today to help improve the lives of displaced adolescent girls around the world.


    As many as 6.5 million of the world’s 43.51 million people displaced by conflict live with disabilities. People living with disabilities are among the most hidden and neglected of all displaced people, excluded from or unable to access most aid programs because of physical and social barriers or negative attitudes and biases. Often, refugees with disabilities are more isolated following their displacement than when they were in their home communities.

    The international Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities aims to advance the rights of persons with disabilities, including the millions of refugees with disabilities. The Convention has been ratified by 118 countries thus far. In the United States, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently approved it, and it will now go to the full Senate.

    TAKE ACTION: Please contact your Senators to urge them to vote for the Convention, which will make a tangible difference to this highly vulnerable population.


    July was an eventful month with regards to the parental rights of immigrants—with both good and bad news to report. In a devastating blow, a Missouri judge ruled against Guatemalan mother Encarnación Bail Romero, whose son Carlos was adopted by an American couple against her wishes. On the positive side, Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced the Help Separated Families Act of 2012, legislation to counter bias against undocumented parents with children in the child welfare system. Read about the bill, which the Women’s Refugee Commission helped shape, here. The Women’s Refugee Commission is leading efforts to protect parental rights. We co-organized the first-ever national training on strategies to protect parental rights in the face of detention and removal and are offering helpful tools and resources that parents, attorneys and advocates can use to preserve family unity.


    "To unleash the power of young people, we need to partner with them." –UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

    This past Sunday was International Youth Day, and the theme was partnership. In a new blog, WRC staffer Josh Chaffin shares his thoughts on how youth can drive change after a crisis and rebuild their communities—with our support.


    Sarah Costa, executive director, published commentary “Taking Family Planning to the Next Level” on the TrustLaw (Thompson Reuters Foundation) blog “The Word on Women.”

    Emily Butera, senior program officer, detention and asylum program, was quoted on the Encarnación Bail Romero case by ABC News, St. Louis Patch-Dispatch and Kansas City Star. Emily also published a blog, “Mother Loses Custody of Her Son,” on New America Media.

    Sandra Krause, director of reproductive health, published “It Takes a Village: Getting Family Planning Where It’s Needed” on the website RH Reality Check.