On International Women's Day, we honour the refugee women who are rebuilding their lives, helping their communities and inspiring a generation. Their courage and determination motivate us every day. 

Women and girls make up 50% of any refugee, internally displaced or stateless population. No matter where they are, we're working around the clock to provide them with protection, aid and opportunities to help millions of women thrive, not just survive..

Our 5 Commitments to Refugee Women:

  • Meaningful participation
  • Individual registration
  • Economic empowerment
  • Prevention of sexual + gender-based violence
  • Equitable aid distribution
Find out more about UNHCR's work with women and girls

Women and girls make up 50% of any refugee, internally displaced or stateless population. © UNHCR//Roger Arnold

The self-defence classes have empowered countless women, increased their confidence and improved their physical strength. © UNHCR/Olga Sarrado Mur

Defence class teaches refugee women to fight gender violence

Globally, around one in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime, according to UN Women, the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. During times of displacement, the risk of violence against women and girls is exacerbated.

At a UNHCR-organised class in Jordan, the SheFighter studio teaches women how to defend themselves and boosts their self-esteem in the process.

The class was a new experience for Layla, who has spent so many years fighting on behalf of others. 

Read Layla's story and find out more about the SheFighter studio →

Resettlement program offers a returnee a chance to rebuild

Last year, Fadumo could barely foresee a life where she was in control and earning an income. Born and raised in Kenya’s Dadaab camp, Fadumo, 24, could only imagine her homeland through the stories and memories shared by her parents, who fled Somalia’s civil war in 1991.

That August, she was given the opportunity to make her dreams of going home become a reality. She and her family returned to Kismayo in southern Somalia, which her parents had left nearly three decades ago. The rest is history. 

“I feel welcome back here and, with my new skills, I can make a living.”

UNHCR equips refugees who wish to return to Somalia with the skills to help them start over. However, more needs to be done.

Find out more about Fadumo's story →

Fadumo sells her tie-dyed fabrics in the market in Kismayo, as well as in her shop, which also stocks fruit and vegetables. © UNHCR/Feisal Omar

Olympic swimmer and former refugee, Yusra Mardini, who became a UNHCR Global Ambassador last year. © UNHCR/Susan Hopper

7 inspirational women to follow on social this International Women's Day

Social media has changed a lot in the world. Most notably, it has given us a platform to be heard and to take a stand from wherever we are in the world (even when sitting down!) 

In the run up to International Women’s Day, on our social channels we’ve been shining a light on a hand-picked selection of formidable women, working in a variety of fields, who are using social media to offer insight into humanitarian issues and advocate on behalf of refugees. 

Find out who we put in the spotlight  →

Join the conversation! Follow #IWD2018 #PressforProgress and #TimeisNow and let us know how you're marking International Women's Day this year on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Refugee girls are only 50% as likely to go to secondary level as boys. It’s time to change this. It’s #HerTurn.

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