In March 2014, Asylum Access will be attending the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women’s (CWS) fifty-eighth session to discuss the progress of gender equality and economic empowerment of female refugees with government and UN officials from around the world. In anticipation of its visit, Asylum Access submitted a written statement to the Commission, identifying the major barriers female refugees experience when seeking access to livelihood opportunities, education, health and gender equality.
Our submission specifically reviewed the implementation of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), contending that MDG programs must be inclusive of women and girl refugees to be truly effective. As the 2015 target date for the achievement of the MDGs draws near, the submission called upon governments and UN entities to make certain that female refugees are included in the post 2015 development agenda.
“We needed to seek asylum somewhere where there was peace. Tanzania was the closest country. But to live, we need something to live, somewhere to sleep. We didn’t come with anything like money,” says Lwenga, a Congolese refugee in Dar es Salaam. He tells this to me as he explains why he, other Congolese and Tanzanians are working together in a small soap-making business.
It’s not an easy business. Lwenga and Esale—another refugee—must take several kilos of the boiled fruit of the oil palm tree and press them in what they call a “local machine” to extract the oil. This takes two men and several hours. “With this machine,” says Lwenga, “it takes the whole day. You arrive, start extracting and then you can work until night.”
By Stewart Pollock, Legal Intern, Asylum Access.
At Tuesday’s Plenary Session of the UNHCR Annual Consultations with NGOs, UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Alex Aleinikoff spoke on the importance of innovation and self-reliance; highlighting the importance of refugee rights, including the right to work.
Update from UNHCR’s Ministerial Meeting: Secretary Clinton voices support for lawful employment opportunities
By: Jessica Morreale Therkelsen, Global Policy Manager, Asylum Access
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has added her voice to those highlighting the need for lawful employment for refugees and stateless persons at UNHCR’s Ministerial Meeting this week. She focused her remarks on the importance of forward-looking policies to address the needs and rights of refugees and stateless persons and called on countries to turn their pledges into actions.
UNHCR High Commissioner, António Guterres, tells ministers the right to employment is key to self-reliance.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres (Photo © UNHCR/S.Hopper)
By: Michelle Arevalo-Carpenter, Overseas Operations Director, Asylum Access
Today, António Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees, emphasized the crucial importance of the right to work for refugees to an audience of foreign ministers from around the globe.
On Labor Day, Americans celebrate the power of the individual worker in a society that believes everyone should be able to achieve prosperity through hard work and personal ability. That’s our national ethos: The American Dream. This ethos should also form the foundation of the federal government’s overseas refugee assistance.
Refugees spend an average of 17 years in exile. The majority of refugees live in Africa, Asia and Latin America and—whether in camps or urban areas—would prefer to work and support their families, but are denied access to lawful employment in violation of international law.