International Women’s Day, Refugees and the UNHCR

A day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women I’m happy to have had strong, positive female influences in my life, starting with my mother who, as a strong woman, I’ve picked up many traits from to my sister, teachers, co-workers, managers, and friends.

However as much as this day is meant to celebrate, it’s also a great opportunity to draw attention to some of the struggles that still exist today. In general refugees are considered some of the most vulnerable citizens in the world but the UNHCR has recognized female head of households to be specifically vulnerable as well as young women in what can often times be a very harsh situation.

When visiting the refugee camps in Jordan we learned how families will sometimes marry off their young (and very young) daughters in hopes of granting them a protector, often times to a more powerful or “wealthy” family. Instead of playing outside with their friends, attending school and learning to be a kid these young women are forced into marriage, growing up all too quickly.

I think the global focus goes in waves, and right now the focus is quite heavily on refugees being taken in by countries around the world, and the political situation around that. Which is fine – it’s amazing to see so many refugees being taken in. However it’s the tip of the iceberg. The refugees leaving war zones are a drop in the bucket compared to those left behind. And while those that make it over are frequently the most vulnerable, there are many many left behind.

Funding for the worldwide refugee situation is a little like a roller coaster, but the needs don’t go down with the popularity. The UNHCR makes sure women and girls are registered as individual refugees, not just part of a male-headed family unit. They provide counselling, treatment, safe havens and legal referrals. They support women and girls who have experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse or exploitation. They do amazing work.

So I wanted to take a moment to write this post, remind you of the many vulnerable women still out there, and encourage you to consider the UNHCR as a trusted and grateful recipient of your charitable contributions.

I know that these women appreciate it. Please spread the word, and consider donating today.