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    Research. Rethink. Resolve.

    January 2013

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      • Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon
        May 2, 2013 | New York City
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    Areas of Work

    Dear Friend,

    As we begin this new year, I would like to thank all of you who so generously support our work to improve the lives of displaced women, children and young people around the world. Your donations play a vital role in our ability to develop innovative and effective programs that keep refugee women and children safe, healthy and self-reliant.

    In 2013, with your help, we will continue to identify gaps in humanitarian practice and policy by ensuring that the voices of the displaced are heard and heeded. Our programs will help women and children displaced by war, persecution and natural disasters worldwide access safe livelihood options, reproductive health care and clean cooking fuel alternatives. Thanks to your generous contributions we will continue advocating for and protecting the rights of the world’s most vulnerable people, especially refugees with disabilities, displaced adolescent girls and immigrants held in U.S. detention centers.

    Thank you for your partnership with the Women’s Refugee Commission. Together we can positively effect change.

    With warm wishes,
    Sarah Costa's Signature
    Sarah Costa
    Executive Director

    In Memoriam: Catherine O’Neill, Women's Refugee Commission Founder

    It is with great sadness that the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) announces the death of our founder, Catherine O’Neill, after a long illness. Catherine founded the WRC (originally known as the Women's Commission for Refugee Women in Children) in 1989 with actress Liv Ullmann and other women at the forefront of refugee issues. A passionate advocate, Catherine traveled around the world to listen to refugee women and children to learn of their needs. In the U.S., she championed their rights at the United Nations, on Capitol Hill and through major newspapers, radio stations and TV. By identifying the improvement of the plight of refugee women and children as the key to the betterment of all refugees, and by linking displaced women with activist women in the United States, Catherine changed forever the dynamics of refugee advocacy. The WRC continues her legacy of addressing the needs of displaced women, children and youth around the world. Read obituaries in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

    We will pay tribute to Catherine at our Voices of Courage Awards luncheon on May 2.

    Catherine’s family has requested that donations in Catherine’s memory be made to the Women's Refugee Commission.

    How Do We Ensure Urban Refugee Youth Have a Chance to Work?

    Under contract with UNHCR, Center for Domestic Training and Development in Nairobi is currently training about 250 young people in cooking, computer classes and life skills and educates them on their rights.

    When fleeing conflict, persecution and natural disasters, many young people escape to cities in search of livelihood opportunities, shelter and food. Often invisible, these urban refugees are vulnerable to exploitation and violence. Many are at an educational disadvantage compared to their host counterparts and face insurmountable barriers to furthering their schooling. Their needs and capabilities are frequently overlooked in humanitarian programs and interventions. To remedy this, we have released Economic Empowerment of Urban Refugee Youth: Guiding Principles, designed to help policymakers and those implementing programs specifically target urban refugee youth and ensure their untapped potential doesn’t go to waste. The report is based on findings from field research in Cairo, Panama City and Nairobi.

    Keeping Women Safe While They Earn a Living

    Women displaced by conflict and natural disasters are often at risk when they try to earn a living to support their families. The scarcity of available work can make them extremely vulnerable to violence against women, including exploitation, sexual violence, physical abuse and non-payment of wages. The WRC has been at the forefront of addressing the need for safe livelihoods for displaced women, and our Senior Director for Programs Dale Buscher recently wrote an article in Forced Migration Review on the subject. He emphasizes the need for humanitarian practitioners to ensure that programs are implemented that offer refugee women work opportunities and appropriate protection. He draws upon WRC guidance about creating safe economic opportunities for displaced women. Check out our e-learning tool or our 2-minute video to learn more.

    In the News

    Senior Program Officer for Reproductive Health Jennifer Schlecht was quoted in the Deseret News article "Child Marriage Perpetuates Cycle of Poverty for Young People."

    Al Jazeera interviewed Jennifer Podkul, Migrant Rights and Justice Program Officer, about the influx of young children who are being apprehended by U.S. immigration agents in a segment titled “Risking Their Lives to Reach the U.S.” on Inside Stories America.

    ABC News quotes Michelle Brané, director of our Migrant Rights and Justice program, in “Christian Indonesians Live in NJ Church's Sanctuary to Avoid Deportation.”

    ABCNews/Univision quotes Senior Program Officer for Migrant Rights and Justice Emily Butera in "A Quarter of Deportations are of Parents of U.S. Citizens."

    New America Media featured our press release in "DHS Finally Addresses Rape in Detention Facilities."