'Why Refugee Women' is not a new idea. It builds on the valuable work of others. This work includes Asylum Aid's 'The Charter of Rights of Women Seeking Asylum' and Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) various campaign work and good practice recommendations to organisations. All of this work argues that refugee women should be treated with fairness, dignity and respect.
In Yorkshire and Humberside one of the key policy documents for refugees was the ‘Regional integration strategy for refugees and asylum seekers’ (2010) by the then Yorkshire and Humber Regional Migration Partnership (now renamed Migration Yorkshire). However, it was felt that there was not enough mention of women's issues and needs throughout the paper.
'Why Refugee Women' began as a small group of representatives from Huddersfield and Calderdale WomenCentre, Refugee Council and Northern Refugee Centre. They met to ask how to advocate further for refugee women. As these organisations worked together on the document the question came up of where are the refugee women in this process? They decided that they needed to support women refugees themselves to take ownership of these issues.
With the additional support of Oxfam this led to the first meeting of a group of women from around the region with passion, skills, leadership and vision. Several members of that first group are now meeting regularly to take the work forward and develop it even further.
'Why Refugee Women' underlines the strengths of refugee women and their important role within communities. It highlights some of women's specific needs and why services should understand these. It consists of both minimum standards for working with refugee women in Yorkshire and Humber and aspirational standards