Waiting for Spring – 2021 International Day for Women’s Rights

In an ideal word, there would be no need for such a thing as an International Day for Women’s Rights. 

In 2020, migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee women and girls have constituted one of the most vulnerable populations in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Deprived of schools for the youngest of them, who, in their majority, will probably not return, they have been touched by another hidden epidemic. In a context of generalized lockdown, mobility restrictions and social distancing, making even more complex the access to organizations and community support, domestic and gender-based violence has been on the rise worldwide.

In 2020, migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee women have also been frontline actors in the struggle against the pandemic as well as in the survival of economies which, without them and a great number of workers, male and female, composing the invisible though essential basis of our societies, would have collapsed. 

In 2020, migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee women have been thousands to mobilize themselves and their communities in order to preserve their life and solidarity, cope with a situation increasing their vulnerability and isolation, and defend their rights while the world had other priorities.

On this Monday, March 8th 2021, the International Day for Women’s Rights is not a luxury – it is a necessity.

It thus is with a renewed belief in both their ideals and power to change the real that Za’atar NGO’s leadership and team worked throughout 2020 to offer refugee and asylum-seeking women a place to live, take a breath, meet and build, a place to grow and then leave, in their Athenian shelter on the first floor of their community center, the Orange House.

Coming from Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon or Iran, they have been welcomed and supported in this singular and difficult period for us all and even more for people on the move. Benefitting from the holistic approach and personalized support developed by our team of psychologist, social worker and lawyer, they were able to all remain as active as possible – studying at school or taking part in a professional training, finding a job in the summer or between the lockdown periods, and following language classes at the Orange House.

If one of our residents got infected by the virus in the first weeks of the epidemic, and had to spend two weeks in the hospital – a complicated experience for any foreigner and especially asylum-seeker, she was grateful for the kindness of the nursing staff and support from the Orange House’s team and the other residents, with whom she fortunately reunited, recovered and relieved.

In 2021, Za’atar NGO is committed to carry on working to make this complex and beautiful world a better place for all women and girls, so that one day, perhaps, the 8th of March is just another one of those days when we look up at the sky and smile, waiting for spring.

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