Intersecting issues which must be addressed to provide comprehensive protection for Girls 19 – 24
This group of women fall into the category of “Youth” but that implies a homogenisation of experience for everyone in this age group.
Those lucky enough to have completed education, and to have lived with a loving and protective parent or family often have considerably more opportunities such as access to information, training, safe livelihoods and freedoms to travel within the refugee communities. This gives them more possibilities to form or join Youth groups and organisations and to participate in consultations and decision making.
Girls from extremely poor families, from abusive families and girls who have been denied education for whatever reason seldom experience what is conjured up by the term “youth”. As well as the generalised sexual abuse experienced by women and girls across the refugee sites, their lives are confined by forced or arranged marriage, childbirth and childcare, and high levels of family and domestic abuse. They have little access to training, safe livelihoods and are often forced into exploitative work as domestic servants or in factory work where they are abused by employers and often forced to exchange sex for their rations, or salaries. They struggle with inadequate shelter and lack sufficient food or access to sexual and reproductive health care. Counselling services are scarce and often of dubious quality. There is a paucity of safe houses for women fleeing violence across all age groups. Despite this, across refugee sites, young refugee women who face these abuses and barriers still rise to positions of leadership, providing support and encouragement to their peers.
Example pledge to effectively address the needs of Women 19-24
Member States and other stakeholders could include all or some of the following language in pledges to address the need of this group. In addition to many of the provisions mentioned above.
We X State, X Stakeholder commit to ensuring that the needs of all young women in this cohort are addressed. Those who have gained an education will be provided with opportunities for further study and supported to build their leadership skills and further develop their organisations. Women who were denied education will be offered adult education and training, both to increase pathways to safe livelihoods and self-sufficiency, and to support their leadership capacities. For both groups, this will include childcare, and the range of access to safe shelter, basic needs and comprehensive health care, sexual and reproductive health care and psychosocial support requires by all groups. SGBV prevention and response mechanisms will be prioritised in all refugee sites.