International Women’s Day: 5 leading women celebrate the women who inspire them

Marchu Girma and Natasha Walter with some of the women they work with at Women for Refugee Women

International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the amazing contribution and achievements of women in society. IMIX wanted to encourage and recognise some of the incredible women who work across the refugee and migration sector – and also ask them about the women they have worked with and alongside, who inspire and motivate them to do their work. A quick summary of each piece is below with the full posts available by clicking on the different headings. We hope these pieces lift you, motivate you and spur you onto to create a better society for all where each person can thrive. Happy International Women’s Day!

Emma Harrison on women challenging the status quo

Emma Harrison, Chief Exec of IMIX looks across the sector at her ‘sisters who are fighting for a fairer immigration system and for a more equitable society’. She highlights the work of Lelia Zadeh at UKLGIG, Zrinka Bralo at Migrants Organise and Sally Daghlian at Praxis among others. She says: ‘On a daily basis I see women who challenge the status quo and work to make the world a better place for refugees and migrants.’ She encourages us all to seek out refugee and migrant women who we can give a platform to.

Sonya Sceats on putting power into the hands of those with lived experience

Sonya Sceats, Chief Executive at Freedom from Torture shares how and why their work focuses on survivor empowerment. She acknowledges the work of two remarkable survivors using their own experiences to advocate for change at the highest level. Sonya writes: ‘The women survivors who do reach us are a daily inspiration to me. Their resilience and determination to recover from the horrors inflicted on them are a basis for our therapies. We work in partnership with them to rebuild their lives and find their voices again.’

Dr. Edie Friedman celebrates two remarkable social justice pioneers

Dr. Edie Friedman, Executive Director, The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) remembers two extraordinary social justice pioneers who she worked alongside, June Jacobs and Helen Bamber, who’s ‘drive and infectious personality made you feel that making things better for people was really possible.’ Her rallying cry is that we continue the work these inspiring women began.

Edie Friedman and Helen Bamber packing food for refugees in 1996

Jen Ang on defending women’s rights at the grassroots

Lastly, Jen Ang, Director of JustRight Scotland celebrates Gesya, a grassroots advocate and project coordinator who provides emotional and practical support to asylum seeking and refugee women who are expectant and new mothers. Gesya does her role with ‘warmth, care and humour, helping to make the best possible start, for our newest of New Scots.’

Marchu Girma on the extraordinary women hoping for a better future

From Women for Refugee Women, the Deputy Director, Marchu Girma recalls her own experiences of coming to live in the UK from Ethiopia and the racism she was subjected to. It was these early, formative days which inspired her to raise the profile of black people in British history and help change the narrative around migration and racism. Now she works with hundreds of asylum-seeking and refugee women across the UK who are often at the harshest edge of the hostile environment: ‘No matter how hard life for these women is, they are always hopeful for a better future. Their resilience and ability to endure and thrive is very inspiring.’

Author Katherine Maxwell-Rose

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