Empowering refugee women: Insights from the Global Refugee Forum

Women & girls

Empowering refugee women: Insights from the Global Refugee Forum

08 March 2024
People sitting at a panel with microphones

Speakers at the High-Level Event on gender equality and strengthening responses to gender-based violence (GBV), one of a series of discussions at the Global Refugee Forum 2023.

This year’s International Women's Day theme, “Inspire Inclusion”, is celebrating the importance of improving equal opportunities for women. Refugee women and girls face unique challenges, which is why the Global Compact on Refugees calls upon the international community to promote gender equality and ensure gender-sensitive approaches to refugee responses. This call for support for inclusive approaches and policies was reiterated recently at the Global Refugee Forum (GRF). 

Without political will there is no funds, no resources, no experts to help us create any kind of change.

-  Gianina Marquez Olivera, Quinta Ola, Parallel high-level event on Gender Equality and Protection from Gender-Based Violence

During the GRF 2023, important multistakeholder pledges on gender were announced. The pledge on gender equality and protection from gender-based violence (GBV), led by Germany, Chile, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and Australia, aims to improve access to inclusive and quality GBV prevention and response services. Pledging partners committed to achieve this through strengthening national protection systems and fostering collaboration with women refugee-led organizations aiming to protect survivor,s and those at risk, and provide them with safe access to services.

Enhance and empower the agency of refugee women. Enhance our capacity. We are able to do the work.

- Mary Tal, Founder of Whole World Women Association, Parallel high-level event on Gender Equality and Protection from Gender-Based Violence

This pledge was announced at a parallel high-level event at the GRF on Gender Equality and Protection from GBV. The event was moderated by Gianina Marquez Olivera, co-founderess of Quinta Ola, a feminist grass-roots organization in Peru working for the human rights of displaced women and girls. The speakers overall called for more partnerships with Women-led Organizations, like Quinta Ola, and ensuring meaningful participation of women and girl refugees as equal partners in decision making processes.

France, as a co-convenor of the GRF 2023, has also taken significant steps forward in addressing these issues by spearheading initiatives aimed at supporting women and girls who are refugees or stateless. In her speech on the opening day of the GRF, the then minister for foreign affairs, Catherine Colonna, reiterated France’s commitment to supporting initiatives that prioritize the needs of the 55 million forcibly displaced or stateless people that are women. On this occasion, she announced the launch of the multistakeholder pledge “Avec Elles” (ed. with her), led by France, which aims to strengthen the protection and inclusion of women and girls through a range of programmes and interventions designed to address the multifaceted challenges faced by them. These include a focus on accessing education and vocational training, support for maternal and reproductive healthcare services, and efforts to combat gender-based violence within refugee communities.