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Book Club Series – We Are Displaced

Welcome to the Women for Women International Book Club! This month we’re reading We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai.  

With World Refugee Day on June 20, we chose a book highlighting the power of women and girls displaced by war and conflict. It’s a power we witness daily in our work with women survivors of war and conflict, where some participants are refugees or displaced. They move forward, rebuilding their lives while inspiring courage in people around them.  

As you read this month’s book, don’t forget to join the #WFWIBookClub Facebook Group. We’ve launched a space for readers passionate about women’s power to connect. We hope you’ll join us soon to help build a community of sharing women’s stories and our strength with one another. 

Join the #WFWIBookClub Facebook Group  

What is We Are Displaced about? 

Book cover for 'We Are Displaced' by Malala Yousafzai

Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist Malala Yousafzai opens with her own story of displacement as the Taliban gained ground in Pakistan. Through her memories, Malala invites readers to understand her life in Swat Valley: the people, the places, and the day-to-day emotions. These are what violence forced her to give up.  

Next Malala introduces nine young women and girls from around the world, each with her own story of displacement. Their experiences highlight the predicaments that lead people to choose leaving home—despite the danger and risks—because death seems the only other option. Some women and girls may return home. Others may not, as conflict keeps it too dangerous or perhaps because the people who made a place home no longer live there, too.  

Some of the stories show women and girls from places or people we have served, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Yemen, Yazidi people, and the Rohingya people. Some come from other crises, such as Colombia, Guatemala, and Uganda. Despite the finite pages of each experience, none of their stories are finished yet. Each one continues to hope and use her power to make the world better in her own way.  

Discussion Questions 

Check out the discussion questions below and connect with readers on Instagram or on Facebook Groups to share your reactions, thoughts and questions by using the hashtag #WFWIBookClub, and tagging us with @womenforwomen. We want to hear what you think—share with us your take on the book! 

  1. In We Are Displaced and articles about it, Malala emphasizes that becoming displaced or a refugee often isn’t a choice. How do the stories in the book show that? What kind of circumstances force people to leave home?  

  2. Why is it so difficult to leave home? What are the obstacles that refugees and internally displaced people face when trying to find safety? What do they give up?  

  3. Zaynab and Sabreen still haven’t reunited. In what ways does displacement separate families or threaten to? What is the effect of that risk and/or reality on people already forced from home?  

  4. How does conflict and displacement affect women and girls’ opportunities? Education? Independence? What ways did you see people working to secure and advance women’s power despite the barriers? 

  5. One of the sections highlights Jennifer, who helped Marie Claire and her family when they were relocated to Pennsylvania. Why do you think this section was included? What does Jennifer’s story show? 

  6. Many of these stories show women and girls using their power to make the world better. What are their hopes and dreams?

  7. Malala, Zaynab, Marie Claire, Farah, and other refugee or displaced people either visit or want to return to places they fled. What are their reasons? What do they hope to achieve?  

  8. On the other hand, Sabreen, Ajida, and other displaced people do not wish to return home or other places from their journey. What are their reasons? What prevents them from returning home?  

  9. Newer editions of We Are Displaced include an afterword from October 2020, well into the COVID-19 pandemic. How might this crisis help us better understand the upheaval that refugee and displaced women and girls live through? How does it shed light on the injustices they endure? And how has this crisis and other mounting ones such as climate change, rising conflict, lack of access to education, etc. impact refugee and displaced women and girls? 

  10. The book ends with notes on how you can support displaced people. What were some of the suggestions? What ideas do you have? Were you inspired to take action?