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About the Women's Refugee Commission


Our Mission

Our mission is to improve the lives and protect the rights of women, children and youth displaced by conflict and crisis. We research their needs, identify solutions and advocate for programs and policies to strengthen their resilience and drive change in humanitarian practice.

mom and baby 2A refugee mother and child visit a clinic in Malaysia.


Our Vision

Our vision is a world in which refugee and internally displaced women, children and youth:

  • are safe, healthy and self-reliant;
  • have their human rights respected and protected; and
  • inform and drive their own solutions and development.


What We Do

The Women's Refugee Commission is an expert resource and advocacy organization that monitors the care and protection of refugee women and children. We speak out on issues of concern to refugee and displaced women, children and adolescents, who have a critical perspective in bringing about change but often do not have access to governments and policy makers. We also provide opportunities for refugee women and youth to speak for themselves through briefings, testimony, participation in field assessments and international conferences.


Why We Do It

There are currently more than 51 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide who have been displaced by conflict. Of these, 80% are women, children and young people and 26 million are IDPs. Every year, between 10 million and 40 million people are displaced by natural disasters.


How We Work

The Women's Refugee Commission serves as a watchdog and an expert resource, offering solutions and providing technical assistance. Staff and board members carry out an active program of research and advocacy, making recommendations on how to improve assistance to refugee women and children to policy makers in the United States government and UN agencies, and to NGOs.

We travel the world - to refugee camps, urban refugee communities, and detention centers to conduct field research and technical trainings. We meet with refugee women and children to learn their needs and conditions. Recent delegations have traveled to Jordan, Southern Sudan, Colombia, Liberia and Thailand. 

ban ki 1United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon speaks at a Women's Refugee Commission event in NYC on World Refugee Day.


Who We Are

emma pic 2Emma Pearce, Senior Program Officer, Disability Program, undertakes field research in Ethiopia.

The staff of the Women's Refugee Commission are experts in health care, anthropology, gender, children and refugee law. Our board of directors and advisors include women working at senior levels in human rights and refugee organizations, as well as in education, medicine, law, journalism, government relations and communications. Many are former refugees. Our organization was founded in 1989 by Liv Ullmann, Catherine O'Neill, Susan Martin and others.


Dig Deeper


Our Theory of Change



The Women's Refugee Commission is a member of the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership International (HAP-I). HAP-I is the humanitarian sector's first international self-regulatory body. Members of HAP-I are committed to meeting the highest standards of accountability and quality management.

arrow_900 Read our accountability statement

arrow_900 Read our code of conduct


Frequently Asked Questions


Voices of Courage Luncheon

Each year the Women's Refugee Commission holds a luncheon to honor individual refugee women and young people who are working on behalf of other refugees. Find out about our upcoming and previous luncheons and honorees.

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The Women’s Refugee Commission is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by IRS regulations.