World Refugee Day
Worldwide, more than 65 million people have been forced from their homes by violence, famine, or natural disaster - the highest number since World War II.
Without options to excel outside of the household, many girls are kept silent and their needs are left unaddressed. Unfortunately, gender and age make refugee girls vulnerable to unique and especially dangerous challenges. Some are forced into child marriage in an effort to escape starvation for themselves or their families, often with older men.
Through encounters like this one with Aysha, I have seen firsthand that all mothers have the same dreams for their children. We want them to be safe, happy and successful, and that hope doesn't change even if your circumstances are difficult. If anything, it may even become more important.
Around the world, states are using the language of refugee law not to address the suffering of people fleeing war, violence and deprivation, but to find ways to avoid helping them.
Each refugee-producing situation is different and could be caused by a range of catalysts, including war, political unrest, terrorism or even climate change. However, within each situation, there is one constant: that the needs of girls consistently go unheard and unmet.
Today is World Refugee Day, a date to remember the plight of refugees everywhere. It's an occasion we've marked five times since the conflict in Syria began. We wanted to find a way to give Canadians a new perspective on the situation.
"I'm here. I don't know anybody. I don't know where to go. But I'm coming to seek safety."
As I flew home from Jordan earlier this year, I tried to digest all of the stories I had just heard: Families of Syrian refugees telling me of their ornate houses back home, now destroyed; of their extended families all living together, many of those family members now dead; of being forced to flee everything that they knew within a matter of minutes, even seconds.
"You can come from any part of the world, you can love anyone."
A new how-to manual for aid workers lays out the issues and practical steps that all must take to ensure women's sexual and reproductive health and rights, including menstrual health that is a precursor to preventing and mitigating gender based violence. Included in these guidelines is a specific requirement to ensure dignified access to hygiene-related materials.