Today, March 8th, marks International Women’s Day. On this occasion, we want to use our platform to raise the voices of displaced women specifically. Women and girls represent 50% of all displaced people across the world.
Refugee and Nobel Peace Laureate Nadia Murad stated: “I still think that being forced to leave your home out of fear is one of the worst injustices a human being can face.” However, displacement involves multiple and various aspects of a person’ life, and this same injustice impacts different people in different ways. And gender is indeed a factor that impacts and shapes how a person experiences displacement.
Women on the move -female migrants, asylum seekers and refugees - experience displacement in a different way than men, and are often considered part of the “vulnerable” category due to the additional factors/risks they face. This can be explained with/by the concept of intersectionality - the idea that a person’s unique experience of discrimination and oppression is the result of various factors - gender, race, disability, legal status, amongst others - and the ways in which these intersect. Across the world, women and girls face discrimination in various aspects of life. One in three women will be victims of sexual and gender-based violence. People on the move are generally and undeniably subjected to various forms of discrimination, and suffer the consequences of social and economic inequalities. The intersection between being a womanand being a refugee result in women and girls on the move suffering twice the consequences - facing double the discrimination and inequality.
Moreover, women and girls on the move have additional and specialized needs: specialized health care, sexual and reproductive rights, protection from gender-based violence. In the contexts in which they must live, are only some of these needs met. The failure by State authorities as well as humanitarian organizations to address them render women and girls more vulnerable than their male counterparts.
Young girls, mothers, single women are in need of special protection, yet their voices are not heard enough.
“I raise up my voice—not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. … We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”
In Greece, where Europe Must Act was founded two years ago, the lives of female asylum seekers and refugees are crossed by many hurdles, adding on to the already difficult conditions that people on the move face there. For instance, female refugees living in camps have little to no access to specialized women’s health services, making sexual and reproductive healthcare and support scarce to inexistent .
Moreover, the lack of sufficient personnel, the predominance of male doctors, as well as the absence of specialized training weakens the accuracy of the vulnerability assessment that all refugees undergo upon arrival at a Greek camp. Women and girls often feel unsafe disclosing experiences of sexual and gender-based violence or seeking the support they need for other gender-specific conditions, such as female genital mutilation.
Today, we wanted to share the testimony of Zeineb, a female asylum seeker from Syria who spent several months in the hotspot camp on Samos. This testimony was collected and published by Raising Voices, Europe Must Act’s project aimed at sharing and amplifying the voices of people with lived migratory experience.
The experiences of women and girls on the move are multiple and complex. And yet, each and every one deserves the space to be told. For this reason, every Tuesday, from today until the end of March 2022, we will be sharing content aiming to raise awareness about the difficult conditions for women on the move, as well as shed light on the stories of female refugees, as well as those of female volunteers and humanitarian aid workers dedicating their lives and careers to supporting people on the move.
We will also share books, social media accounts, and other resources that can help us all - women and men - to educate ourselves.
At Europe Must Act we want to face this day with hope for more awareness, knowledge, and change for all women and girls on the move.