Recently, The Commission on the Status of Women hosted a panel at the Church Center for the United Nations where the pivotal topic was “The Perilous Journey of Women Refugees Worldwide.” The five well-regarded panelists participating in the discussion were Ms. Reena Ninan, anchor of World News Now and America This Morning on ABC News; Mr. Daniel Seymour, Deputy Director for Programmes UN Women; Ms. Ugochi Daniels, Chief of the Humanitarian and Fragile Context Branch, United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA); Ms. Joan Timoney, Senior Director of Advocacy and External Relations, Women’s Refugee Commission; and Dr. Dorothy Morgos, head of MSF-USA’s psychosocial care unit with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Notable attendees at the event included Anastasia Garvey and Margaret Butler.
The main focus of the panel was addressing the specific needs women refugees are confronted with during their displacement. However, each panelist also had a specific field of expertise that offered the opportunity to have different viewpoints of the refugee crises, while still honing in on the key argument: that women refugees face very particular dangers on their journey to asylum, and how humanitarian aid organizations and state governments should immediately recognize and address their needs. Ms. Reena Ninan talked about what a challenge it is to generate media attention for these refugee crises. Mr. Daniel Seymour addressed the importance of putting administration for the humanitarian programs that directly affect women in the hands of women themselves. Ms. Ugochi Daniels mentioned how in many instances, news broadcasts and humanitarian programs when they cover refugee stories, focus on images of suffering women – pregnant women, young women, old women, young girls, etc. But Ms. Daniels stated that women are “featured first and funded last” in the humanitarian realm. Ms. Joan Timoney discussed the importance of understanding that refugee camps are not the only unsafe zones where women refugees experience gendered violence; these women constantly face dangers throughout their journeys. Dr. Dorothy Morgos focuses on how vital it is to preserve the dignity of these refugees, because they are not just helpless victims in need of saving. They are courageous women fighting to survive. Essentially, by giving these women hope and putting the power in their hands to administer humanitarian aid, refugee crises can be addressed effectively.
Following the panel, the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the U.S. National Committee for UN Women held a reception to honor these panelists and showcase some short films relating to the refugee crises. They also thanked members of the chapter for their impactful involvement and introduced Ms. Azadeh Khalili as the featured speaker at the reception. What an insightful discussion and recognition of strength!