"She overcame everything that was meant to destroy her." –Rumi.
Women and girls make up around 50 percent of refugee, internally displaced, or stateless populations. In some societies, women and girls face discrimination and violence every day simply because of their gender. An ordinary task like collecting water or going to the toilet can put them at risk of rape or abuse (UNHCR). There is no doubt that crisis exacerbates gender inequalities.
In war-torn countries, such as Iraq and Syria, ISIL punished women for demonstrating their power and raising their voices. Women have been repeatedly raped, forced into marriage, and sold into slavery. Nigerian women and girls have given harrowing accounts of their experiences at the hands of Boko Haram.
When it comes to living in camps, refugee girls and women's situation is not any better. According to a UNHCR report: "In many refugee camps, refugee women and girls may be raped by other refugees, acting either individually or in gangs, and self-appointed leaders may thwart attempts to punish the offenders. In certain camp situations, unaccompanied women and girls have been known to enter "protection marriages" to avoid sexual assault. The frustration of camp life can also lead to violence, including sexual abuse, within the family."
Women in general experience gender discrimination and violence, but being a refugee woman is much more constraining. Today, we would like to honour all the brave, bold, strong, resilient, fantastic refugee women who have surpassed obstacles and created a future for themselves.