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Celebrate Accomplishment this International Women’s Day

On International Women’s Day we celebrate refugee women who have overcome incredible obstacles to help themselves, their families and their communities.

Women whose stories deserve to be heard.

Annick Iriwacu from Burundi stands outside her cooking gas retail outlet in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, which she runs with her brother Darcy. Annick, a mother of three, fled Burundi in 2015.

Thanks to our donors, UNHCR — the UN Refugee Agency — is on the ground helping displaced women and girls reclaim their lives, offering empowerment in the face of incredible loss. But merely providing the tools for success is not enough. Through their dedication, ingenuity and compassion, refugee women around the world are building better lives for themselves and their families.

Clémence, 20, fled Mpadi village in Masisi territory with her parents, four brothers and two sisters, in 2008. She lives in the Kahe displacement site in Kitchanga with her family, and loves sewing.

Forced to flee her home when she was 10 years old because of rebel violence, Clémence eventually settled with her family in Kitchanga, a town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There, her parents scraped by to send her and her siblings to school but — even after graduating and spending a year studying sewing — Clémence was still unable to find work.

But when a small UNHCR-supported factory opened in Kitchanga, Clémence found a job and a chance to build a better future. Now, Clémence and 57 other displaced Congolese work together with local community members to make soap and sanitary kits. Clémence uses her sewing skills to make reusable menstrual pads that are changing the lives of the women in her town. Without affordable options, many women rely on fabric pads, which can cause infections and impact a woman’s ability to work or go to school.

Internally displaced people and members of the local community selected for the project pose in front of the soap and sanitary pad factory built by UNHCR in Kitchanga.

“This pad we’re manufacturing is great,” Clémence explains. “It really improves the hygiene of women and girls during menstruation. It has no negative consequences on our health, like some of the other pads or pieces of cloth that can cause irritation and infections. We made these with our own hands, we know what’s in it, since we do not put any additional products nor toxic components.”

UNHCR’s initiative in Kitchanga not only empowers Clémence, but also provides the women of her town more control over their bodies — a crucial necessity for female empowerment.

This International Women’s Day, let’s celebrate all that refugee women have accomplished and redouble our support for equal rights. Together, we can help women like Clémence realize their full potential.

Here’s how you can help…

On International Women’s Day and every day, the best way to ensure that women like Clémence can go to school and realize their full potential is to make a gift today.

Mar 1 2019
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