International Women’s Day is a worldwide event that celebrates women’s achievements, from the political to the social, while calling for gender equality. It has been observed since the early 1900s and is now recognised each year on 8 March.
In Australia, it has just been confirmed that in 2018 the gender pay gap is 22% – which makes me question just how far we have come on the road to gender equality for women. The principle of equal pay for equal work was introduced in my country in 1969, so how can there still be such a disparity?
There is no doubt women from a refugee background face much bigger issues than pay equality. Issues such as persecution, conflict and often violence. Some of these threats are quite distinct from those that men and boys face. According to the Women’s Refugee Commission, 50% of female victims of sexual violence are 15 years old or younger. In the world’s conflict zones 10 million girls are not in school; girls account for only 30% of refugees enrolled in secondary school.
As I enter the last year of my PhD at Curtin University, my research and writing is concentrated on how the stories of refugees are narrated. I did not set out to focus on women, but that is how my four years of study has turned out.
So, on this International Women’s Day, I am choosing to celebrate by sharing some success stories about women of a refugee background.
While I can’t share the stories from my PhD research yet, I wanted to give you some links to stories from women who have faced much more challenging backgrounds than most of us and yet have found a way to not only survive, but to thrive.
- I am often inspired by the stories I read on the UN Women website.
- The Refugee Council of Australia has stories about women and men that you might find interesting
- The importance of language is explored for refugees in Czechoslovakia – but the same issues apply to all countries
- You can also check out the website of the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) for some really inspirational success stories.
And finally, to gain some insight into what is going on in Western Australia – that could also be applicable in other countries – look at Ishar Multicultural Women’s Health Centre which encourages the health and wellbeing of women of all ages and from all cultural backgrounds, as well as the Edmund Rice Centre WA.