Women and girls make up nearly half of the 258 million people worldwide who have crossed international borders to escape danger or pursue opportunity. Amidst unprecedented levels of forced displacement – with 68.5 million people driven from their homes by the end of 2017 – about half of refugees, too, are women and girls.
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UNAIDS, chair of the H6 partnership (six United Nations bodies working on health-related issues) and the African Union have pledged to enhance their collaboration to eliminate sexual and gender-based violence, prevent HIV, and protect women's health and rights in humanitarian settings.
Mercy Akout is a firm believer in educating women and young girls. A South Sudanese refugee living in Kenya's camp, Mercy escaped forced child marriage to become a vocal activist, fighting for women's rights. She works in her community, encouraging families to send their daughters to school and stop harmful cultural practices like child marriage.
In the four days it took her family to flee from violence in Myanmar to safety in Bangladesh, 25-year-old Tahara endured a journey plagued by monsoon rains, armed forces and lack of food. When she crossed the border, UNHCR met her most urgent needs, including health care and nutrition for her four-month-old daughter Shahana.
Founder Samira Harnish, an Iraqi immigrant, is named Nansen Award regional finalist from the Americas.
When she first arrived in Jordan as a refugee from Sudan five years ago, Waed was painfully shy, refusing to talk to anyone outside her family. Now, sprinting around a basketball court flinging passes and shouting encouragement to her teammates, she says she is unrecognizable from the girl she once was. Waed attributes her transformation to Reclaim Childhood, a non-profit sports programme for refugee and local girls in Jordan.
UNHCR is expanding cash-based assistance so that the millions of people that it serves can meet their needs in dignity, are protected and can become more resilient. Taking a bank card to a cash machine in Beirut, Syrian widow Manar Al Sayer taps in a PIN and withdraws a few Lebanese pounds.
Mariéme Jamme, who received no education until she was 16, is now a technology entrepreneur with a mission to train young women. Mariéme is one of 16 World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders (YGLs) on a visit to Kakuma, and the Kalobeyei settlement in north-western Kenya, to meet refugees and host communities.
1.3 million refugees are currently hosted by Jordan, a country that continues to demonstrate humanitarian leadership in the Syrian refugee crisis. In 2012, UN Women opened its first Oasis— a centre for refugee women and girls to access emergency aid and specialized gender-based violence services at Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan. Over time, the scope and impact of the Oasis model has expanded to encompass multi-sectoral services that build women’s resilience and empowerment. Currently, UN Women operates four Oasis centres in two Jordanian camps: Za’atari and Azraq.
Fatimata, 12, had a narrow escape after resisting an arranged marriage, but her case reflects a wider problem among Malian refugees in Mauritania.