Imagine ethnic persecution, a war, or even an earthquake that has destroyed everything forcing you to leave your home country. Maybe you are even pregnant or have your children with you.
Thinking about what women refugees have to go through makes us both angry and sad. So we have teamed up with UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe Germany for UNHCR to support women on the run for International Women's Day.
Donate here between 7th and 9th March 2023. We will match all donations received during that time from our site.
More refugees than ever before
Some 103 million people are on the run worldwide. That's more than 1% of the world's population, and that number is rising dramatically. Since the end of 2021, 13.6 million more people have had to leave their homes. The main reason for this 15% increase is the war in Ukraine. The majority of refugees are women and children.
The current situation is particularly severe in Turkey and Syria:
Turkey is the country that currently hosts the most refugees - 3.7 million. The earthquake in February this year thus also hit many people who had already lost everything. Things are made worse by a harsh winter with temperatures around freezing point.
And, after a year of war, the situation still hasn't improved in Ukraine: Many families have lost their homes and are waiting in makeshift shelters, both in Ukraine and abroad, hoping for news that the war has ended.
War always hits the weakest the hardest. Those who suffer are often children, the elderly, and the socially disadvantaged. Women play a central role in crisis regions: it is often they who take care of basic services: medical facilities, childcare, etc.
Fleeing is never voluntary!
Women generally flee for the same reasons as men: for political or religious reasons, or because they belong to a specific ethnic or social group. In addition, however, there are women-specific reasons for fleeing that do not affect men in the same way, such as sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, forced marriages, or domestic violence, which force women to leave their homes.
Violence against women
When social structures change in a country, the propensity for violence often increases. This can result in kidnappings and systematic raping of women and girls, crimes which are also often part of war strategy. Victims of violence often suffer long-term psychological consequences throughout their lives, from depression to suicidal thoughts and social isolation.
The Corona pandemic has further fueled the situation
For example, there has been an increase in violence against women refugees, and not only in their home countries. The low-wage sector, as well as areas of informal work, have often completely collapsed as a result of the pandemic, causing many women to lose their livelihoods.
The Corona pandemic has also led to an increase in poverty in many countries. And, unfortunately, when poverty increases, so do instances of forced marriage, child labour, and human trafficking. Many refugee girls around the world have had to abandon their education and work instead, or even leave their homes.
Precarious conditions on the run
Women are also often exposed to dangerous situations while fleeing: sexual violence, no protection, no hygienic care, often no access to food for days. Many have their children with them. It is difficult for them to obtain items such as sanitary products or nappies. Pregnant and sick women have no access to medical care.
Women as a sign of hope
Despite all these hurdles, women and girls show great resilience, ingenuity, and courage in overcoming these problems. In many cases, they're the ones who find the strength to rebuild not only their own lives but also the lives of their families.
Aid organisations play a central role in this area: for example, they ensure that children born while on the run are also issued birth certificates. The UNHCR specifically addresses the needs of women in all its programmes, focusing, for example, on education for girls and women or job programmes to enable women to gain their independence. At the same time, women need a safe place to sleep and separate toilet facilities - basics that cannot be forgotten.
The UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe Germany for UNHCR works to improve the lives of women
"Our goal is to build on the rich experiences, skills, and aspirations of women and help them realise their full potential - through better access to education, decent work, and legal and health services."
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Fillippo Grandi
The UNO-Flüchtlingshilfe is one of the organisations that help as quickly as possible on the ground after disasters such as the earthquake in Turkey and Syria. They take into account the specific needs of women - and we would like to support their work.
Help women on the run to rebuild their lives - we will match all donations received between 7th and 9th March 2023!