Women and Girls as Refugees

Women and girls make up a significant proportion of the refugee population worldwide. They face unique challenges and vulnerabilities that need to be addressed to ensure their protection, empowerment, and full enjoyment of their human rights.

Gender-based violence: Women and girls are disproportionately affected by gender-based violence in conflict and displacement settings. They may experience sexual violence, domestic violence, trafficking, early and forced marriage, and other forms of abuse. Efforts must be made to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, provide safe spaces, and support survivors.

Access to healthcare: Women and girls require specific healthcare services, including reproductive health, maternal care, and access to contraceptives. Ensuring access to quality healthcare, including sexual and reproductive health services, is essential for their well-being and dignity.

Education and empowerment: Education is vital for refugee women and girls to build skills, regain a sense of normalcy, and enhance their future prospects. Barriers such as lack of resources, cultural norms, and safety concerns may hinder their access to education. Promoting gender-responsive education programmes and addressing barriers can empower women and girls to thrive.

Legal protection: Refugee women and girls have the right to legal protection, including access to justice, legal aid, and documentation. They may face challenges in asserting their rights, such as lack of awareness, discrimination, or limited legal support. Strengthening legal frameworks and ensuring access to justice can help address their specific needs.

Participation and decision-making: Meaningful participation of refugee women and girls in decision-making processes that affect their lives is crucial. Their perspectives, voices, and leadership need to be recognised and included in humanitarian responses and policy development. Empowering women and girls as active agents in their communities contributes to more effective and sustainable solutions.

Intersectionality: Refugee women and girls may face intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalisation based on factors such as age, disability, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Recognising and addressing the multiple dimensions of their identities and experiences is essential to ensure inclusive and equitable support.

Role of women-led organisations: Women-led organisations and grassroots initiatives play a crucial role in advocating for the rights and well-being of refugee women and girls. Supporting and partnering with these organisations strengthens community-led responses and ensures that interventions are context-specific and responsive to the needs of women and girls.

Efforts to address the specific challenges faced by women and girls as refugees require a comprehensive and gender-responsive approach. It involves collaboration between governments, humanitarian actors, civil society organisations, and affected communities to promote gender equality, protect rights, and create opportunities for empowerment and self-reliance. By recognising and addressing the unique needs of refugee women and girls, we can work towards a more inclusive and just society for all.
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