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Celebrating refugee women and girls on International Women's Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, we held a special online event, raising money for Syrian refugee women and their families in Jordan, with the theme ‘Women on the Frontlines.’

Almost 200 guests tuned in to learn from a remarkable panel – Gillian Triggs, UN Assistant High Commissioner for Protection; Naomi Steer, Australia for UNHCR National Director; Mariam Veiszadeh, CEO of Media Diversity Australia and a former Afghan refugee; and Yalda Hakim, BBC presenter. The event was hosted by veteran journalist Deborah Knight.

The panellists discussed the Ukraine Emergency and the situation of displaced women and girls in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover. The panellists also shared stories of hope and strength from displaced women rebuilding their lives in the wake of refugee crises in Afghanistan and Niger.

Yalda Hakim sent us a report from Lviv in Ukraine where she was reporting for the BBC. Yalda generously shared insights into what is happening at the Polish border and in the city of Lviv, where people are sheltering in bunkers that haven't been used since World War II. Yalda also described the heartache in watching women and children leaving their partners and fathers. 

“One of the most eerie, heartbreaking things I've seen [in Ukraine] is the wave of women and children arriving without the men in their lives. The children are weeping because they've just said goodbye to their fathers,” Yalda said in an interview with Australia for UNHCR.

Gillian Triggs, UN Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, praised the women working on the frontlines around the world.  

“At the moment, we have 40 emergencies of one kind or another, of which 21 are new. We've never had this level of conflict and displacement… If we're going to talk about inspiring women - the women of the UN Refugee Agency have stayed and delivered. It's remarkable,” she said.

Om Ali, a Syrian refugee, is pictured with her son Yahya, 12. Donations raised from our International Women’s Day event will help women like Om Ali and their families. © UNHCR/Farah Al-sa'di

Human rights champion and former Afghan refugee Mariam Veiszadeh told of the hope she gets from Australians wanting to help in times in crises.

"I get inundated with people requesting help from Afghanistan and also getting inundated with messages from allies, messages from...influential women saying, how can we help?...That gives me hope and...reminds me of the positivity of the human spirit," she said.  

The webinar concluded with a heartfelt message from Assistant Commissioner Triggs, who thanked Australians for their support.

“The generosity of Australians is very well-known and we really see that here in the Geneva headquarters.”

Money raised from the event will go towards women like Om Ali. Om is a Syrian refugee, her family benefits from UNHCR cash assistance.

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the webinar, you can view the full recording below.

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