Called to Action: strong women leading the fight for justice

07 March 2019

Topics:

“The world needs to tap into the talent and wisdom of women. Whether the issue is food security, economic recovery, health, or peace and security, the participation of women is needed now more than ever”
– Michelle Bachelet, former head of UN Women
Across the world, women are leading the way in the fight for justice. When disaster strikes, when conflict erupts, and when injustice makes life unbearable, women from all walks of life give their time, skills and experience to give back to their community. Here, we feature some of the leaders and role-models we have met who are working to bring a brighter future to their communities.

Fatima: nurturing Gaza’s next generation

Video:
In Gaza, Fatima works to bring children the medical care they need. She says that the children of Gaza are falling ill from poor diets, and that there is a shortage of medicines, as the military blockade on the small territory means there is a chronic lack of health supplies. The blockade has also crippled for the Gazan economy, making it hard for families to earn enough income to buy fresh, nutritious food for their children.
 “I’m very happy in my job. I think we are helping a lot of people, and what I love about it is the children. It’s always nice to meet healthy ones and also to help the ones that are in need”
Fatima
Fatima says that the smiles of her patients helps her deal with her own pain that the war brought: “The job has helped a lot because after the war I was isolated and depressed, but I started to talk about it at work and that helped me. And now I’m meeting people and it takes all the negative energy out of you.”

Virginia: mother of the refugees

Video:

They call her the “mother of the refugees”.

                  
Her compassion, her generous time, and her open ear has given Virginia this honarary title among Syrian refugees in Jordan. Virginia has been helping them since the start of the conflict in 2011, offering them a shoulder to lean on and someone to learn from.


She volunteers her time teaching refugee women the skills they need to get ahead, and talking to them about their rights and those of their children.

“I know what they suffer. I know how it is difficult for them to cope. I can’t do it alone. No one can do it alone.”
Virginia

Mee Kaing: defending rights on the firing-line

Video:

After decades of conflict, hundreds of thousands of Burmese have been forced to leave behind their homelands in Myanmar to seek refuge in neighbouring Thailand. Many of them have been living in refugee camps for decades.

Mee Kaing is a refugee herself. She fled with her husband and children when the Burmese army attacked her village in 2006. Since then, Mee Kaing has been working to help other refugees access food and shelter for the most vulnerable members of the community. Working as a Community Manager, Mee Kaing helps identify families in need of extra support, such as single parents or people with disabilities.

Because of restrictions placed on the refugees movements, and because they have not been granted the right to work, many families are dependent on food rations to get by. Mee Kaing told us “I am paid a small stipend and with this I can buy some food for my family.  Part of my food ration portion can go to someone who needs it more. 

Haneen: a helping hand for refugee women

Video:
In the Talbiah refugee camp in Jordan, Syrian refugee women are supported by a group of dedicated volunteers who give their time and energy to help them with their health concerns, emotional well-being, and professional and vocational skills.

Haneen is one of those volunteers. She offers her help because “as a human I can't stand seeing children suffering, getting driven from their homes, losing their right of living their childhood.”

She says that volunteering has changed her perspective on her own problems, telling us that “I think that volunteering is the simplest mark a person can leave – regardless of how long you volunteer it’ll always leave a great mark with a good impact”

Aheila: a veteran volunteer for refugee health

Video:
When the bombs began falling in hr home town in Sri Lanka, Aheila and her husband decided to flee to India. That was 1990. Ever since arriving, Aheila has been volunteering her time and effort to support other refugees in need of medical care.
“I like to help out— because we have to empower refugees and help them to stand on their own feet and rebuild our nation.”
Aheila
Thanks to efforts of volunteers like Ahila, many refugees are now “in good health and able to work and sustain themselves and educate their children to enjoy a healthy mind and healthy body.”