Women and girls make up about half of any refugee, internally displaced or stateless population worldwide, according to UNHCR.
All refugees and migrants are vulnerable and deserve to be safe. However, women are twice as vulnerable to violence and exploitation simply because of their gender. On their journey to safety, they experience physical abuse, harassment, sexual and financial exploitation from smugglers, police and other refugees – even on European soil. Many have had to navigate an unfamiliar and often unnerving new environment after becoming the unexpected head of household.
Despite these experiences, these courageous and resilient women go on to contribute to their host countries in important ways, bringing new energy, innovation and cultural diversity. As migrants, they fill gaps in employment, lifting economies and keeping them vibrant and productive. As refugees, they provide for their families, securing education for their children, health care for their family members, and finding new ways to earn or increase their income.
If given adequate support, the new roles that women take on can represent an opportunity for transformative change towards gender equality and women’s empowerment.