In Honor of World Refugee Day, Meet These Strong Girl Leaders

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Advocacy , Child Marriage , Education , Leadership , UN Holidays

On World Refugee Day we’re standing up to ensure all refugee girls have the chance to go to school. We urge everyone to support H.R. 2408,Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act and (1) ensure displaced children have access to educational services, (2) receive quality education, and (3) that the educational needs of girls and women are considered in the design, implementation, and evaluation of our foreign assistance programs. Among the millions of refugees you’ll hear about, we’d like to share some of the hopes and aspirations of strong girl leaders we’ve met.

“I hope to return to South Sudan, that’s why I’m interested in going to school. I want to be educated so that I will be a responsible woman in my future. Coming to Uganda, I don’t know people here. But here, I feel love, community, and help in a way that’s also like I already have a relationship with people.”

– Eva, 17, refugee from South Sudan in Uganda

Stories from recent refugees from South Sudan reveal one thing: girls just want to go to school. Despite the difficulty of displacement, uprooting these girls from their homes, they’re determined to finish school. Thanks to UNHCR girls in Uganda are able to continue their studies. During a recent trip to Uganda, Girl Up staff and Champion Cara Delevingne got to sit down and talk to refugee girls like Eva, who just arrived from South Sudan. Read the full blog here.

“In a lower class you may find that there are more girls than boys, then when you get to upper classes, you will find that there are fewer girls.”

– Abdhu Grace William, a refugee and teacher from South Sudan teaching in Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda.

Abdhu Grace William is one of the many teachers in the refugee camps. The classes she teaches are more than 3 times the size of a normal classroom, and one single teacher may teach as many as 1,000 students a day. Unfortunately, young girls are the most likely to drop out of school once they get older. With more refugees coming to camps, teachers find themselves in overcrowded classrooms with few supplies. Learn more about Abdhu Grace William’s story and Girl Up’s work in Uganda.

A girl at Kuluba Transition Center holds water for her family as they wait for transport to a refugee settlement. Within 24 hours of crossing the border, refugees are registered by UNCHR and given a hot meal before being transported to a nearby settlement to begin rebuilding their lives again.

Since July 2016, over 640,000 refugees have fled violence in South Sudan and entered Uganda, which now has nearly 1 million South Sudanese refugees. Girl Up visited refugee settlements in Northern Uganda with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to learn about their resettlement process and witness refugee girls’ education programs. See the daily life in Uganda’s Refugee Settlements in photos.

In response to the refugee crisis, the 2016-2017 Girl Up Teen Advisor Class decided to make a video showcasing their support for refugees and emphasize that all countries should work together to ensure the safety of all people.

Want to do more? Take action today!

  1. Send a letter to your U.S. Congressional representative asking them to co-sponsor H.R. 2408, Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act.
  2. Call or schedule an in-district meeting with your U.S. member of Congress and tell them to support H.R. 2408.
  3. Learn more about how H.R. 2408 helps ensure that refugee girls have access to education.
  4. Sign the petition from UNHCR to show that you stand #WithRefugees.
  5. Learn more about the work Girl Up is doing to help give refugee girls access to education.