The Women’s Refugee Commission is the only organization solely dedicated to improving the lives and protecting the rights of displaced women, children and young people. We conduct fact-finding missions and research and then advise international agencies, governments and other organizations on ways to improve humanitarian policies and practices. Our advocacy results in real and lasting changes, ensuring that refugees and displaced people can lead healthier, safer and more productive lives.
- Advocated and advanced the protection of women and children in conflict settings with the passage of two critical UN Security Council Resolutions
- Focused international attention so that refugee women can safely access fuel to cook for their families.
- The Women’s Refugee Commission established the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s SAFE Task Force. This group represents 17 key UN and nongovernmental humanitarian agencies. With our leadership, the group produced the first-ever global guidance documents on implementing safe access to firewood and alternative cooking fuels in humanitarian settings.
- We collaborated with the World Food Programme on its SAFE Stoves Initiative. This project provides fuel-efficient stoves to 6 million refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees in 36 countries. The program, launched in 2009, has reached more than 100,000 women in Sudan and 35,000 women in Uganda. It has since been expanded to Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Haiti and Sri Lanka.
- Advocated for increased access to U.S. immigration detention facilities
- Now more nonprofit organizations can observe conditions, visit and interview detainees. We advocated for a policy change within the Department of Homeland Security, and as a result more advocacy organizations will be able to monitor and report negative conditions.
- Protected unaccompanied children in U.S. federal custody
- Our advocacy was instrumental in ensuring that unaccompanied immigrant children were transferred to the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and not put into the hands of the adult system of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
- Ended the prison-like conditions under which immigrant families are detained in the United States
- We were the first nongovernmental organization permitted to visit the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a federal detention facility for undocumented immigrant parents and their children. Following our landmark report Locking Up Family Values: The Detention of Immigrant Families and the American Civil Liberties Union’s subsequent legal victory against Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security announced its decision to end family detention at Hutto on August 5, 2009.
- Led international efforts and made reproductive health a humanitarian priority
- We were among the first to recognize that displaced women and girls in conflict- and disaster-affected areas had a dire need for reproductive health services. We developed and promoted an accessible guide to help first responders provide reproductive health services. More than 1800 individuals (representing more than 200 organizations) have passed the online course, ensuring they understand what steps must be taken to save women’s lives in crisis.
- Helped displaced women support themselves with high quality and safe livelihood programs
- We published the first comprehensive manual to guide humanitarian practitioners as they design work programs for displaced and refugee women. Worldwide, 1,500 print copies have been distributed, and the manual has been downloaded from our website more than 3,000 times.
- We trained nearly 500 humanitarian workers and program leaders, representing 60 organizations and 40 different countries, to create programs that foster safe and appropriate work.
- Promoted education and job-skills training for conflict-affected youth
- We brought global attention to the lack of educational opportunities for young people during a crisis.
- We developed a Toolkit that helps humanitarian providers create quality and relevant vocational training programs for displaced youth.
- Raised awareness of the needs of refugees and displaced persons with disabilities
- We published the first-ever global research report on disabilities among refugees and those affected by conflict.
- We worked with disability organizations to promote equal access and full participation of individuals with disabilities globally.