International Women’s Day Edition
Our weekly roundup of what we’re reading: a few select articles from the front lines of human rights that we don’t want you to miss.
1. “Nurse Freshta Poupal: ‘I had women throwing their babies at me to safety,’” by Fariba Nawa, Women in the World/New York Times
“‘As a critical care physician, I’m accustomed to seeing traumatic things, but this situation is different,’ Hakimi said. ‘Being a refugee myself and seeing my own people with so much hope in their eyes crushed and devastated is something I can’t explain. It’s not all despair, but we can’t let this problem slide by and assume it will disappear. I think it will get worse before it will get better.’”
This article details how dozens of Afghan Americans, many of them women who were once refugees themselves, are working to help Syrian, Afghan, and Iraqi refugees arriving in droves on the Greek island of Lesbos. This is what solidarity looks like, and we’re truly moved by the work these volunteers are doing to support refugees in Greece. UUSC is also working in Lesbos, partnering with PRAKSIS (which, translated from Greek, stands for Programs for Development of Social Support and Medical Cooperation) to deliver much-needed support — including transportation and winterization kits for babies — to arriving refugees.
2. “Empowering Women Refugees,” by UNHCR (the U.N. Refugee Agency) Staff, UNHCR Tracks
“Her family fled their home in Syria after violence engulfed their neighbourhood. They tried to make a life closer to the border with Jordan, but were driven to flee again after barrel bombs hit their home.”
This striking photo essay highlights the strength and resilience of women who have been forced from their homes, have sought safety elsewhere, and are slowly building new lives. Women face particular challenges as refugees — whether it’s increased risk of sexual violence and trafficking or fewer educational and job opportunities. That’s why in its work with partners throughout the world, including with refugees in the Europe and the Middle East, UUSC strategically attends to women’s rights and needs.
3. “Women Are The Ones Fighting The Tough Environmental Battles Around The World,” by Marlene Cimons, ThinkProgress
“But these three represent thousands of other women globally who are engaged in local battles against climate change and other environmental conflicts, often at significant personal risk and with great courage. These women understand that the struggle for environmental justice also is a fight for gender equality, land rights, economic and cultural rights, and food security, among other things, and that local activism can be a critical portal to the political process and policy decision-making. It seems fitting to recognize them on International Women’s Day.”
Highlighting the stories of three women environmental justice activists, this article outlines the ways that issues of environmental justice — including climate change, food sovereignty, and more — disproportionately affect women. And it also shows the amazing ways that women are taking action around the world to stand up for their rights. It reminds us of all the inspiring women we partner with to advance the human right to water — like Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization in Detroit, the members of the Tanzania Gender Networking Program, and many others.
4. “16 Courageous Women Standing Up to Violence,” by Kristin Williams, Yes! Magazine/The Institute for Inclusive Security and PRI
“‘Discrimination and inequality are so deeply rooted in our country,’ she says. ‘It doesn’t only affect me as an individual,’ but is the cause of Myanmar’s 68-year civil war, the longest-running in the world.”
In case you need a little more inspiration heading into the weekend, check out these short profiles of 16 women working to end violence. From Sudan to Myanmar (also known as Burma), Mexico to the Ukraine, these women are making vital change and getting us closer to a world in which all can realize their full human rights.