Around the world, there are 110 million displaced persons; 35.3 million are refugees. In 2022, the global number of internally displaced persons (IDP) rose by 19.1 million. War and conflict, violence and extreme weather are major contributors of these high numbers. Women account for half of the number of refugees and those displaced around the world; for them, the journey to asylum away from home presents life-altering risks as they are exposed to discrimination and gender-based violence.
When conflict emerges, Women for Women International (WfWI) works with local partners on the ground to meet the unique and urgent needs of women that are often overlooked in times of crises. Here are three crises that are affecting women’s lives every day, and how you can support them:
The eruption of deadly conflict in April between the Sudanese government and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces exacerbated an ongoing displacement crisis in Sudan borne from political instability and ethnic tension. The beginning of the Darfur Conflict in 2004 resulted in the deaths of 300,000, and the displacement of 2.5 million.
Since April, nearly 1.4 million civilians have been displaced by the conflict, seeking asylum in displacement camps both inside and outside of the country. As of May, 250,000 civilians are estimated to have left Sudan to neighboring countries, no doubt a growing number as the violence continues. Amid the clashes, reports of sexual violence against women and girls by soldiers have emerged.
In response to the sudden outbreak of violence, WfWI launched our Conflict Response Fund (CRF) in Sudan to provide urgent support to internally displaced women. Through our CRF, we are partnering with Zenab Women for Development to distribute emergency kits with flour, rice, sugar, oil and flour, as well as essential items like soap and sanitary pads.
We are also partnered with the Sudanese Organization for Research and Development (SORD), a local organization committed to human rights and gender equality, to provide the women and girls with dignity kits containing flashlights and whistles, provide trauma-informed counseling and document of cases of gender-based violence.
The Rohingya people have an extensive history of living in Myanmar yet are not recognized as an official ethnic group in the country. Because the ethnic group, predominantly of the Islamic faith, has been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982, they are left unprotected and without rights; women and girls are vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation in a country already affected by gender-based violence.
Ongoing persecution against the Rohingya people have led to mass displacement from Myanmar to refugee camps in Bangladesh and other neighboring countries. As of March, nearly one million Rohingya refugees are living in camps in Bangladesh. Many of these camps were damaged by Cyclone Mocha in May, a powerful storm system that devastated many communities on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
Our CRF in Myanmar consists of a partnership with the Center for Social Integrity (CSI) in the Northern Rakhine State, where we reach Rohingya women and girls remaining in Myanmar who live in government-controlled detention campus or remote villages controlled by severe restrictions. Through our partnership, women and girls receive a basic education and training that prepares them to become more involved in their communities.
"When I compare myself before I joined the CSI program and after, I have changed and now I am good at tolerance and communication. I am now a good teacher for my students."
-Myat, CSI participant
Since 2011, conflict in Syria spurred by government-backed political violence has created one of the largest refugee crises in the world. Currently, 6.8 million Syrian refugees are living in Lebanon, Türkiye, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq to escape the violence, not including the number of Syrians displaced in 125 other countries. According to 3RP, 48% of refugees living with the region are women. In Syria’s northwest region, extreme weather has led to the destruction of settlement where displaced families lived. In February, the deadly Türkiye-Syria earthquake claimed the lives of over 50,000 people and upended 1.7 million Syrian refugees living in Türkiye.
Through our CRF, WfWI partnered with Women Now for Development (WND), an organization based in Syria that provides a network of support for women based in and around Aleppo. The CRF ensures that women affected by the conflict in Syria receive training and resources that equips them to earn money and better their livelihoods, including training in vocational skills and computer literacy, as well as language instruction. When the earthquake struck the Türkiye-Syria border, we also raised funds to meet the needs of the WND staff, so they could place a strong focus on helping other women affected.
“I’ve always had a passion for technology and dreams of working to provide for myself and my family. But as a 25-year-old Syrian woman far from home and living in a camp, it was difficult. So, when I found out about Women Now, I enrolled in a computer maintenance training course.”
-Amra, WND participant
How to Help
By 2030, WfWI hopes to reach one million women survivors of war and conflict. For many of the women we support, life as they knew it changed overnight, and they were forced to make difficult decisions for their own life and their families. When you donate to Women for Women International, you are helping us reach this goal to continue providing critical support to these women.
2. Keep Up With Our Work
Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to stay informed about our work and the women we serve. Our website is also regularly updated with blog posts and stories about women who harnessed their power and changed their lives through our programming.
3. Participate in WfWI’s Global Campaigns
Our campaigns are launched with to create global awareness around gender-based violence and advocacy for women’s rights. By participating in our campaigns for International Women’s Day and the 16 Days of Activism, you are using your voice to amplify the voices of the women we serve.