Posted by: Ana Monroy | March 28, 2011

International Women’s Day 2011 celebrated in UNHCR operations around the world

The 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day was celebrated with numerous events in UNHCR operations around the world. The UN-selected theme for this year was Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women. “Just as we are using the commemoration of the anniversaries of the refugee and statelessness conventions to help forge a new protection dynamic, let us use the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day to make the millennium development goal of gender parity in primary and secondary education a reality,” said High Commissioner Guterres.

These are just a few examples of the many activities organized around the world:

In Jijiga, Ethiopia, refugee communities provided performed songs, dances and drama. In Aw’bare speeches were delivered on access to education and increased employment opportunities, high performing female primary and secondary school students received awards, and volley ball and basket ball competitions were held. In Kebribeyah, the Girls Club from the secondary school held question and answer sessions on gender equality and youth groups presented dramas on education. The community discussed problems girls face in attending school particularly issues in relation to drop out and enrolment. Despite an upward trend in enrolment and retention, many teenage girls are out of school and working to support their families.

Community drama in Jijiga, Ethiopia

UNHCR is addressing this problem through providing evening classes, so girls can combine school and work. A secondary school club in Shedder refugee camp gave engaging performances about girls in school and how women are the umbrella for all activity in the family and community, so an educated mother means an educated family. See for the full report: Ethiopia_Jijiga Camps _ IWD 2011

Dance by refugee girls from Ourecassoni

In Oure Cassoni camp in Chad, refugees, humanitarian agencies and representatives of the Chadian authorities gathered for the celebrations, which included theatre and dance performances by refugee women and girls, as well as a visit to the new office of the women’s refugee committee. See for the full report: IWD 2011_Bahai, Chad

Afghan refugee woman who received a sewing machine: “now I and my daughter can work with this machine, my daughter is going to university and with the money that we will earn by tailoring she has a chance to continue her education”

In Iran, ceremonies were held in Tehran and its sub-offices in Ahwaz, Kerman and Mashhad with the attendance of (133) female and (28) male refugees. Speeches emphasized the importance of education for refugee women in terms of protection and self-sufficiency.  See for the full report: IWD 2011_Iran

Five female heads of households familiar with tailoring each received a sewing machine donated by UNHCR. In sub-office Mashad, an Afghan female university student delivered a lecture on SGBV and depression among Afghan refugee women. An Afghan refugee woman read a poem that she had written and a live music was performed.

In Burundi, a multitude of activities took place in different locations around the country. In Bujumbura, celebrations included discussions about girls’ education, testimony by a former refugee, theatre performances by school girls, traditional dances, SGBV awareness raising and poems. In Makamba, Bururi and Rutana camps, awareness raising session were held on women and girls’ rights, girls’ education, woman’s independence in production. In Gasorwe et Musasa camps, women and girls participated in a football competition and performed theatre on the theme of SGBV and the economic independence of women. Discussions were held about girls’ education and women’s participation in camp activities. In the province of Ruyigi, awareness raising discussions on equal access to education and production means took place.

Read the newsletter of UNHCR Amman, Jordan, on their achievements and activities to empower refugee women last year: Jordan _UNHCR Newsletter Electronic Version

Watch the new film produced by UNHCR Colombia on the situation of internally displaced women there:

International Women’s Day took place as the fourth of the Regional Dialogues with refugee women and girls was under way in Kyangwali refugee settlement in western Uganda. Celebrations in Kyangwali were therefore postponed until Friday the 18th of March, after the end of the Dialogue. The day was kicked of with a musical march through Kasonga village, and was followed by a series of speeches, and traditional dances and theatre.

In Zambia, the UNHCR operation that will host the next Dialogue in April, the UNHCR Representative held a mini Dialogue with refugee women of different nationalities in the capital, Lusaka. The discussions revolved around participation, individual registration, SGBV and sanitary materials – the themes of the High Commissioner’s Five Commitments to Refugee Women.

Exhibition of Regional Dialogues storyboards at UNHCR HQ in Geneva

At UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, an exhibition of storyboards created during the Regional Dialogues with refugee women and girls in India, Colombia and Jordan portrayed the protection problems refugee women and girls face, as well as the solutions they propose.


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