• Sexual & Reproductive Health

    RDPP, UNICEF, UNFPA Announce Projects to Aid Survivors of Sexual Violence in Iraq

    According to the Women’s Refugee Commission, “refugee women are extremely vulnerable to sexual assault and exploitation, including rape. Prevention of sexual violence, services for survivors and access to sexual and reproductive health care is critical in crisis situations when vulnerabilities are drastically increased.”

    We’ve Come A Long Way

    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.

    Reproductive rights supporters protest decision barring undocumented teen from getting abortion

    “Justicia para Jane! Whose bodies? Our bodies!” chanted a group of about 30 protesters in front of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building Friday morning. The protesters, made up of mostly Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America organizers and staff, were speaking out against the Trump administration’s decision to bar an undocumented teenager from getting an abortion for her unwanted pregnancy. The young woman, identified as Jane Doe in court, was detained after crossing the southern U.S. border in Texas.

    Undocumented Minors Who Suffered Rape May Be Denied Abortions In Government Custody

    Many undocumented immigrant girls seeking safety in the United States are raped during their journeys. Once they arrive, they are put in custody of a government that is now obstructing access to abortion.

    Trump Administration Stops Underage, Undocumented Immigrants from Getting Abortions

    The Trump administration has taken steps to prevent underage, undocumented immigrants from getting abortions.

    Trump official halts abortions among undocumented, pregnant teens

    The policy marks a departure from the Obama administration, when an undocumented teen’s request was not reviewed unless she sought federal funds.

    Humanitarian Settings a Key Focus At Family Planning Summit

    2017 Family Planning Summit Marks First Time Humanitarian Settings is Elevated as a Specific Area of Focus

    London, UK – Marking five years since the inaugural 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, donors, governments, NGOs, agencies, and advocates to London gathered in London today to assess progress on the original goal to empower 120 million additional women and girls in the 69 lowest income to use modern contraception by 2020.

    While progress has been made – since the original commitment 30 million additional women and girls are using modern contraception – current progress is not on track to achieve the 2020 goals. According to providers, implementers, and advocates, one of the areas where family planning services have not been prioritized by donors and governments is in humanitarian settings.

    An Ounce Of (After-Sex) Prevention: At The Family Planning Summit, Let’s Talk About Emergency Contraception

    Crossposted from The International Consortium for Emergency Contraception

    To meet the global Family Planning 2020 goals, a full range of family planning methods must be available, including user-controlled, short-acting methods. The Guttmacher Institute’s analysis, Adding it Up, estimates that 214 million women of reproductive age in developing regions want to avoid pregnancy but are not using a modern contraceptive method. Half of unmarried women with an unmet need for family planning report infrequent sex as the reason that they do not use a family planning method. A quarter of married women not using contraception fall into the same category. Not feeling themselves at high levels of risk, these women may wish to avoid the appointments and waiting times, dependence on providers, side effects, discomforts, and other commitments that long-acting contraceptive methods sometimes entail. Other women may not be using modern contraception because they are unaware of their options or are faced with inaccessibility due to distance barriers, poor health infrastructures, stock outs, or high prices. As well, many women are located in humanitarian and fragile settings where contraceptive access can be challenging.  For many women and girls not currently using a long-acting contraceptive method, a simple, discreet, user-controlled, low-commitment, one-time “on demand” form of contraception that can be accessed easily and quickly is a critically important option. This method already exists: emergency contraception.

    New Strategies to Address GBV in Urban Humanitarian Settings

    Displacement is increasing dramatically and it is increasingly urban. Today 65.6 million people around the world are displaced by conflict and 60% of those who are refugees have found refuge in urban areas. This necessitates a re-think of humanitarian service delivery including for the prevention of and response to gender-based violence (GBV). Specifically, it is imperative that we all dig deep to better understand, prevent, and respond to GBV in urban settings.

    11 Experts to Watch on Refugee Health

    Refugee health has been called “a public health crisis of this century,” needing as much attention and collaboration over resources as global epidemics such as polio and HIV/AIDS.

    From war trauma to women’s health, refugees have a complex spectrum of medical needs, bringing challenges for displaced populations, their host countries and aid organizations.

    Many refugees who have fled war or ethnic and political violence are exposed to exploitation and abuse along their migration route, leaving them vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some children born in conflict zones may have to deal with toxic stress for their entire lives.

    Statement of Sarah Costa, Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission, on the passing of UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin

    NEW YORK – In response to today’s announcement of UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin’s passing, Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) Executive Director Sarah Costa issued the following statement:

    “On behalf of the Women’s Refugee Commission, I want to express our deepest condolences to Dr. Osotimehin’s family, friends, and UNFPA staff during this difficult time. He brought to UNFPA significant service experience and a deep understanding of family planning and adolescent girls’ needs including in humanitarian settings. He will be sorely missed.

    Women's Refugee Commission at 10th Session of the Conference of State Parties

    The Women's Refugee Commission will be participating in the 10th Session of the Conference of State Parties (COSP10) to the CRPD taking place at the U.N. Headquarters from June 13 - 15, 2017. 

    Budgets are Moral Documents and this One Fails

    Budgets are moral documents and the President’s budget request released this week is a moral and practical failure for displaced women, children, and youth around the world.

    As the White House delivered President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request to Congress this week, Ambassador Nikki Haley – who is on her first international trip as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations – visited the Za’atari camp in Jordan to see how refugees there are coping. Clearly moved by the bleak setting, Haley told reporters "We're the number one donor here through this crisis. That's not going to stop. We're not going to stop funding this." Referencing a convoy of trucks carrying food aid, Haley said "This is all in the name of our Syrian brothers and sisters… We want you to feel like the U.S. is behind you.”

    PRESIDENT’S PROPOSED BUDGET BETRAYS WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD, PUTS LIVES AT RISK

    NEW YORK – The White House delivered to Congress today President Donald J. Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget request. Titled, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” the president’s budget request includes drastic cuts to U.S. foreign assistance including a 31 percent cut to the U.S. Department of State and USAID, and significant increases in funding for immigration enforcement, detention, and the militarization of the border in the United States. 

    Women’s Refugee Commission Stands for Strong Customs and Border Protection Hiring Standards

    Washington, DC - Women’s Refugee Commission, today, expressed opposition for proposed legislation that would weaken Customs and Border Protection (CBP) hiring standards by waiving the use of polygraph for certain applicants. The bill was introduced last month by U.S. Representative Martha McSally (AZ-02). The use of polygraphs has identified countless cases of criminal activity by applicants that might otherwise have been entrusted with the safety of our nation’s borders. This elimination would leave holes for widespread corruption within the agency and endanger the lives of migrant children and in fact anyone traveling across borders. 

    WOMEN’S REFUGEE COMMISSION CONDEMNS GLOBAL GAG RULE EXPANSION

    NEW YORK, NY – Continuing its attack on women’s health and rights, the Trump administration today issued – via the United States State Department – full guidance on implementation of the global gag rule, also known as the “Mexico City Policy.”

    Syria: Seven Years, 11 Million People, No End in Sight

    In March, the Syrian conflict enters into its seventh year. This protracted war has created nearly 5 million refugees and 6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).  In Lebanon, one in five people in the country are Syrian refugees; there are more than 600,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan; and there are more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees living in Turkey.

    Since 2013, the WRC has been at the forefront of humanitarian efforts to research and develop guidance for the women, children, and youth refugees affected by the Syrian crisis.

    Women's Refugee Commission at CSW61

    Women's Refugee Commission will be participating in the 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

    This year’s theme is women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work, with an additional focus on empowering indigenous women.

    The sessions begin on Monday, March 13 and will run through March 24, 2017.

    Protecting Women Refugees as Part of International Women’s Day

    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.

    Protecting Women Refugees As Part Of International Women’s Day

    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.”

    I beg to differ on at least five fronts: