Women on the Move

Oxfam and the UN Women Europe along with the Central Asia Regional Office, most recently have organized a strategy meeting of civil society organizations (CSOs), working with Women on the Move, fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq. The workshop took place on 16-18 May 2016, in Istanbul, Turkey.

The meeting was ,indeed, a tremendous historical event, whereas representatives of civil society organizations, women’ groups, volunteer and humanitarian initiatives from 15 countries spanning from the Middle East, North Africa (MENA) to Europe came together on 16-18 May in Istanbul to discuss how to empower and protect women and girl refugees and migrants.

General Secretary of LEGIS, Mersiha Smailovikj, was invited from Oxfam and the UN Women Europe and Central Asia Regional Office. She introduced the audience with the current situation in Macedonia and the work that LEGIS is performing, with addressing the needs of refugee women and girls, in the situation where more than 400 refugees are stranded in the camps, and half of them are women and children. The emphasis was put on the illegal migration that is happening on daily basis in Macedonia, as a direct result of closing the borders along the Balkan route.

“Every woman, and every child deserve to choose where they want to live. We can not keep them by their will in the closed camps, in the country that they don’t want to be. Freedom of moving is an essential part of Human Rights and every country is oblige to ensure protection of these rights.” – she added.

Civil society representatives from Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, EU Countries, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia, during these 3 days intensive work and meetings, came out with a statement, that will be presented on 23-24 May, on the first World Humanitarian Summit, as an agreement to key commitments, to restore safety and dignity and the rights of people in crisis. Therefore, all the participants, had a chance to give their solution or opinion how to protect women refugees, and how to ensure them safe and secure passage, or when they are stranded how to help them.

Faced with the failure of state resolutions to resolve conflict and end war; the erosion of international humanitarian law and human rights; the lack of responses that ensure the dignity and well-being of the displaced, which effect in particular women and girls on the move from MENA to Europe, the messages to World Humanitarian Summit participants are:

  • Eliminate the root causes of displacement, especially armed conflict and inequalities
  • Secure safe and legal passage to reduce the violation of refugees and migrants’ rights
  • Ensure that refugees and migrants have a voice in decisions that concern their inclusion
  • Ensure greater participation of women in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, conflict resolution and the provision of assistance to refugees and migrants
  • Fulfilment of their obligations to give women and girls access to education, work and essential services
  • Focus on the prevention of sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and the protection of survivors
  • Strengthen legal systems to end impunity and insure access to justice

As a conclusion, they all agreed that in order to continue to work on these issues, monitor and cooperate across borders, within a new regional coalition of civil society and women’ organizations, until women on the move have their rights and dignity restored.