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  • Sexual & Reproductive Health

    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:

    Family of Woman lecture returns to nexStage

    One of the mainstays of the Family of Woman Film Festival, the Bonnie Curran Memorial Lecture for the Health and Dignity of Women, will return this year on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 6:30 p.m. at the nexStage Theatre on Main Street in Ketchum.

    This year’s keynote speaker will be Sarah Costa, executive director of the Women’s Refugee Commission. With more than 25 years of experience in the fields of women’s rights, reproductive health and gender and youth development, as well as global philanthropy, Costa’s mission at the Women’s Refugee Commission is to improve the lives and protect the rights of women, children and youth displaced by conflict and crisis.

    Trump Reinstates Global Gag Rule

    In one of his first acts as President, Trump issued an executive order reinstating the Global Gag rule that bars U.S. assistance to foreign organizations that provide or promote access to abortions.

    Women’s Marches Flood Cities Worldwide on Trump’s First Day

    Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in cities across the U.S. and around the world on Saturday for massive protests a day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a signal of discontent with America’s new leader that threatened to upstage his first days in office. The Women’s March on Washington, billed as a response to Trump’s surprise election victory, eclipsed Trump’s swearing-in as the most widely attended political event in the capital this weekend. It was mirrored by large rallies across the U.S. and in international capitals including Berlin, Paris and Ottawa.

    Reproductive Health Care in Crises Has Come a Long Way, Says Sandra Krause, But There’s More to Be Done

    There may be more women and girls at risk of maternal health complications in fragile and conflict-affected settings today, but attention to the issue is not new and the international community has made important strides over the last 20 years, says Sandra Krause, program director for reproductive health at Women’s Refugee Commission, in this week’s podcast.

    Women's Refugee Commission Leader to Speak in Sun Valley

    The executive director of the Women’s Refugee Commission will attend this year’s Family of Woman Film Festival. The 10th annual Family of Woman Film Festival is Feb. 27 through March 5 in Sun Valley. Sarah Costa will present the annual Bonni Curran Memorial Lecture for the Dignity and Health of Women at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Ketchum. The public is invited to the free lecture, with a reception to follow.

    In 2014, the annual lecture was named in memory of Bonni Curran, a local philanthropist, deeply committed to working on behalf of women and children around the world.

    Displaced and Disrupted: Closing the Gaps in Maternal Health in Conflicts and Crises

    Where violent conflict displaces people and disrupts societies, maternal and child health suffers, and such instability is widespread today. According to the UN Refugee Agency, there are 65.3 million forcibly displaced people, 21.3 million refugees, and 10 million stateless people over the world. In addition, more than 65 million people who are not displaced are affected by conflict.

    The special need for quality maternal health services in fragile settings has been established by various protocols, including the International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action, adopted by 179 countries in 1994, and the concept of Minimum Initial Service Packages, advanced by the United Nations Population Fund and others.

    However, the conditions in fragile settings are changing, and too many mothers – especially adolescents – still lack access to quality care.

    NGOs Call for Better Protection for Female Refugees in Europe

    This year more than 170,000 people have risked their lives attempting to reach Europe from Turkey via Greece. Their journeys are perilous and they face uncertain futures when they reach Europe. But for women, the risks are amplified because of inadequate facilities at reception centers. Yet governments and humanitarian organizations are failing to meet their specific needs.

    “It is traumatic for women to stay in a variety of places and detention centers. It can be unsafe and they are unable to get access to protection and services,” Sarah Costa, executive director of the WRC, tells Equal Times.

    WRC, along with other women’s rights organizations, are pressuring the EU to change its approach. In June, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) partnered with the WRC to launch #WomensVoices, a campaign to raise awareness of the situation facing the women and girls in Europe who are fleeing conflict. The aim is to influence decision-makers, through a series of recommendations, events, and members’ networking across Europe, to put violence against refugee women on the European political agenda.

    5 Ways Women's Issues Were Ignored in 2016

    2016, a year many predicted would end with a shattered glass ceiling and female president-elect, has not been great for women.

    The year, of course, undoubtedly had its high points: To name a few, 50+ companies have signed the White House Equal Pay Pledge, Samantha Bee emerged as a much-needed female voice in late-night television and President Barack Obama's administration finalized a rule prohibiting states from withholding federal funding from organizations that perform abortions. 

    But 2016 has also left many women feeling disenfranchised and vulnerable, and vital issues like equal pay, paid family leave, reproductive rights and equality for the LGBT community are even more at risk under the impending Donald Trump presidency.

    Though it's a tough list to narrow down, here are just five of the ways women's issues were ignored in 2016.

    Five Reasons Why Disability Matters in a Crisis

    As social and community structures break down during a crisis, protection threats build up. In these scenarios, people with disabilities are at a much higher risk of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, in part because they are often more isolated and have less access to protection services. Research from the Women’s Refugee Commission shows that women and girls with disabilities are particularly at risk of sexual and gender-based violence. However, they may not be able to access support for survivors due to difficulties in reaching services and communicating their needs, or for fear that their accounts will not be taken seriously.

    Here's What It's Really Like To Be A Refugee Mom — & Here's What You Can Do To Help

    Displacement due to conflict or natural disaster can often disrupt social systems and tear families apart, Jennifer Schlecht, Senior Program Officer of Reproductive Health Programs at the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), told Romper.

    "When a mother chooses to carry her baby on a boat across the Mediterranean, to flee across dangerous terrain, or travel in a truck to cross the dessert, all to resettle in a camp or unfamiliar city, the desperation they must feel is undeniable," she said. "As a mother, there is not an ounce of me that can imagine the ache one must feel in your heart when making these risky choices."

    We Stand With Refugee Women and Girls

    At a time when violence has forced record numbers of people to flee their homes, the Women’s Refugee Commission urges the incoming Administration and Congress to maintain strong bipartisan support for life-saving humanitarian assistance and unwavering leadership on the protection of human rights, including the right to asylum.

    VIDEO: The Needs of Refugee Women and Children in the Global Humanitarian Crisis

    In this powerful talk, executive director Sarah Costa explains the work of the Women's Refugee Commission, and discusses the current crisis. The numbers are staggering: one in 122 people across the world have been forced to flee, and the majority are women and children. The average length of displacement is 20 years. What can be done to help?

    WRC Signs Joint Statement on Women and Girls Ahead of UNGA Refugee Summit

    The Women's Refugee Commission is among the 42 grassroots women-led civil society organisations, human rights and humanitarian agencies, that has signed a joint statement which outlines recommendations for commitments by states attending the upcoming Global Refugee and Migrant Summits, to ensure the protection and safety of refugee women and girls.

    Media Advisory: WRC at 71st UN General Assembly Events

    As world leaders gather at the United Nations for the first high-level summit on Refugess and migrants, the Women’s refugee commission asserts that all responses to refugees and migrants must protect the rights and improve the lives of women, children, and youth.

     

    WHAT: New York, NY - On Monday, September 19, 2016, the 71st UN General Assembly will convene Heads of State and leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector at the first high-level summit focused on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants. This landmark meeting aims to bring countries together behind a more humane and coordinated approach. 

    WHEN: Friday, September 16th through Tuesday, September 20th. WRC will support the following events listed below:

    The Quiet Crisis of Europe’s Pregnant Refugees

    "Researchers at the Women's Refugee Commission found that women often left hospitals less than 24 hours after giving birth, some having had a Caesarean section."