Syria + 4 more

Are We Listening? Acting on our commitments to women and girls

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Syria’s women and girls plead for change from international community as relentless violence and abuse continues

A new International Rescue Committee report gives voice to thousands of Syrian women and girls, who demand that international rhetoric be turned into action Washington 18 Sep 2014 - The international community, including governments, UN agencies, and NGOs, have been strong on rhetoric but weak on follow through when it comes to the protection of Syrian women and girls, with devastating consequences. That is feedback provided by Syrian women and girls in a new IRC report that demands a major rethink in service delivery and prioritization. The report calls for the interests of women and girls to finally move from the margins of service provision to the mainstream of humanitarian programming.

“Are We Listening? Acting on our commitments to women and girls” brings together 3 years of IRC experience across the region, drawing on over 70,000 conversations with women and girls, and 200 interviews in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. The report makes clear recommendations to the international community, including a call for the UN to launch an evaluation of the humanitarian community’s implementation of minimum standards needed to keep women and girls safer. The report also calls on/for:

UN agencies, host and donor governments, and humanitarian organizations to ask women and girls for their perspectives when designing services – this is not being done frequently or consistently enough. An immediate UN evaluation examining the humanitarian community’s implementation of minimum standards that keep women and girls safer. UNHCR and host government programs to make individual registration faster and safer for women and girls, facilitating access to aid without a male head-of-household. More programs to be urgently tailored to the specific needs of adolescent girls, including access to education. UN and humanitarian organizations to recognize domestic violence as a threat to women and girls and design more services and interventions to prevent and respond to it. UNHCR, host governments and humanitarian organizations to improve implementation and coordination of monitoring mechanisms of sexual abuse and exploitation. Supported by a preface by Melanne Verveer, former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women's Issues, the report documents three themes of abuse that women and girls face: sexual exploitation and harassment, domestic violence, and early and forced marriage.

David Miliband, CEO and president of the IRC, said:

“This report is a wake-up call that resolutions and pledges are not being turned into meaningful help for too many women in the eye of a Syrian humanitarian storm. While some progress has been made to improve conditions and services for women and girls, this report demonstrates that needs far outstrip current provision – whether for protection of women, education of girls, or treatment of survivors.

The commitments are clear but they need to be turned into action. IRC’s recommendations are achievable and essential if we are to meet the challenge laid out in heart-breaking detail by the women and girls whose voices are the foundation of this report.”


Ollie Money (New York)

646 318 7307

Paul Donohoe (London)

+44 (0)20 7692 2727 / 07779 624 385

Hadeel Al Shalchi (Beirut)

Currently in Lebanon: +96176882284

Jordan: +962 (0) 775066652

About the International Rescue Committee: A global leader in humanitarian assistance, the International Rescue Committee works in 40 countries offering help and hope to refugees and others impacted by violent conflict and disaster. During crises, IRC teams provide health care, shelter, clean water, sanitation, learning programs for children and special aid for women. As emergencies subside, the IRC stays to revive livelihoods and help shattered communities recover and rebuild. Every year, the IRC also helps resettle thousands of refugees admitted into the United States, in 22 cities across the country. A tireless advocate for the most vulnerable, the IRC is committed to restoring hope, dignity and opportunity. For more information, visit, and follow the IRC on twitter, @theIRC / @IRCPress.