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Debate & Resolution: UN Takes on Women, Peace & Security

Following the UN in autumn is no job for the weary, but it’s exciting. September saw the opening of the General Assembly (GA), with a series of high-level events and a historic focus on people with disabilities. And today, October 18, is a thrilling day for those of us working on the critical area of women, peace and security: the UN Security Council is holding its annual open debate on this issue.

Read more: Debate & Resolution: UN Takes on Women, Peace & Security

Human Rights Don’t End at Borders

Human rights don’t end at borders, and they don’t depend on documentation. Yet current U.S. policy and practice don’t guarantee certain basic rights for undocumented immigrants. With widespread support for immigration reform, though, we have a chance to build critical protections into future law. With so many options, which protections should we focus on?

Migrants to any country deserve the right to family. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights points this out explicitly, affirming that the “family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” And yet under current U.S. law and practice, families are torn apart every day.

Read more: Human Rights Don’t End at Borders

No Girl Left Behind: It’s Time to Step Up for Girls’ Rights in Crises

October 11 is the second annual International Day of the Girl Child. This year’s theme is Innovating for Girls’ Education. At events worldwide, key stakeholders are gathering to highlight the role innovation plays in advancing girls’ education and empowerment.

The fulfillment of girls’ right to education is a binding obligation and a moral imperative in all contexts, including when people are affected by war or natural disasters. Peace and stability are not pre-conditions for girls’ rights.

Read the full piece on Trust.org here.

It’s time to include persons with disabilities when preparing for disasters

Every year, between 12 million and 50 million people are uprooted by natural disasters, most of them in developing countries. These crises tend to have a disproportionate effect on the poorest and most vulner­able, particularly women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities.

October 13 has been designated International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR), a day to celebrate how people and communities are reducing their risk to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of disaster risk reduction (DRR).

Read more: It’s time to include persons with disabilities when preparing for disasters

Comprehensive Immigration Reform: The Cost of Doing Nothing Is Too High for Women and Children

Three months have passed since the Senate's historic and bipartisan passage of S.744, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act. Now it's the House of Representatives' turn to act. So far, the House has not made much progress towards passing a comprehensive bill that includes a pathway to citizenship, leaving millions of immigrant women, children and families in limbo. But that does not mean comprehensive immigration reform is dead.

On September 20, the efforts of a bipartisan group of Representatives (informally referred to as the "Gang of 7") to produce a comprehensive immigration bill came to a sudden halt. The group disbanded and many predicted immigration reform dead. However, on that same day, Representatives Grijalva (D-AZ) and Vela (D-TX) introduced the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America's Security and Prosperity (CIR ASAP) Act of 2013. This legislation, the first comprehensive immigration bill to be introduced by the U.S. House of Representatives since the Senate passed its bill in June, represents the type of smart, workable and forward-looking approach that is needed to put the undocumented on a path to citizenship, reunite families and protect women and children.

Read more: Comprehensive Immigration Reform: The Cost of Doing Nothing Is Too High for Women and Children

Beyond 2015. Making Sure the Post-2015 Development Agenda Leaves No One Behind

A major planned theme of the opening of this year’s General Assembly has been the post-2015 agenda, the name given to the development framework that will be established to take the place of the current Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs, as they are commonly known, are loved and hated in equal measure. Many supporters argue they have captured the public’s imagination and driven development like no other piece of work the UN has undertaken. Detractors point to extremely uneven achievement of these basic development goals, as well as exacerbated inequality. Whatever your view of them, there will be a new set of goals to take their place, and this time around the process of coming up with an internationally agreed upon set of goals will be the result of intensive consultations across the world at local, national and international levels, and on the Internet.

Read more: Beyond 2015. Making Sure the Post-2015 Development Agenda Leaves No One Behind

High-Level Meeting Shines Spotlight on Disability and Development

On September 23, UN entities, Member States and civil society organizations from around the world will come together in New York for a High-Level Meeting on Disability and Development during this year’s opening of the UN General Assembly. The objective of the meeting is to discuss how concerned actors can ensure that the post-2015 process and all other development processes are disability-inclusive. The post-2015 process is all the work currently being undertaken through consultations, reports, events, discussions, etc., to identify what development goals should be put in place in 2015, when the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) expire.

The Women's Refugee Commission has been active in preparations for this event, and looks forward to participating on the day.

Read more: High-Level Meeting Shines Spotlight on Disability and Development

Women Rally in Washington for Immigration Reform, Building on Foundation Laid By Women's Refugee Commission

Yesterday, hundreds of women from across the country came together in Washington, D.C., to call on Congress to pass immigration reform that treats women and families fairly. These women are tired of waiting for Congress to address the need for common sense reform that honors the contributions of immigrant women, offers them a lawful and safe way to reunite with their families and enables them to build a better future for their children. Following a press conference in which women and children shared their stories of lives torn apart by our broken immigration system, 105 women -- including 25 undocumented women -- linked arms, sat down in an intersection in the shadow of the Capitol Dome, and refused to move until they were arrested by U.S. Capitol Police.

Read the full Huffington Post article here.

Meet Walei Sabry, Program Intern with the Disabilities Program

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Walei Sabry is an intern with the Disabilities Program. He has a masters in disability studies and specializes in disability awareness, physical and social accessibility, and assistive technology. As a member of the blind and Arab American communities, Walei hopes to take the knowledge he gains from his education, the disability community, WRC and other NGOs to Egypt and join the efforts of the disability movement there. Also, Walei is usually carrying a deck of Braille playing cards if you’re up for a challenge!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I was born in Egypt and immigrated to New York when I was nine with my family. I have been progressively going blind since I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of four. I was able to see colors, shapes, faces and read regular size print until I was 19. For the past nine years, I’ve been adjusting to living as a blind person.

Read more: Meet Walei Sabry, Program Intern with the Disabilities Program

ICE's Parental Interests Directive: Helping Families Caught Between the Immigration and Child Welfare Systems

I met Marta (not her real name) in a migrant shelter in Nogales, Mexico. She had been deported from the U.S. only days before, leaving behind her four children – three of them U.S. citizens – who were split between foster homes and facing permanent separation from their mother.  Two years earlier, Marta had been apprehended in her home, while her children were present. She remembers her daughters crying, as she was taken away, “mommy, no; mommy no.” But Marta was not given an opportunity to arrange for a relative or friend to care for her children. Instead, they were placed into the child welfare system and she was taken first to a local jail and later to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility.

Read more: ICE's Parental Interests Directive: Helping Families Caught Between the Immigration and Child...