From Where I Stand: “To empower women, we must ensure they know how to access legal services.”Samaher, 35, a Syrian refugee woman living in the Za’atari camp, has made it her goal to raise awareness among other women about protection and legal services available in the camp. In the context of protracted displacement, the uncertainty on where to seek help in case of need is another important layer of complexity to violence for vulnerable women. Restrictions of movement due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak further aggravated refugees’ capacity to access legal services. UN Women and the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) work to ensure that vulnerable women like Samaher have information and knowledge of how to access protection and legal services during the crisis and confinement. Today her outreach goes beyond the camp.
Not that long ago, I was not aware of my rights as an individual or a woman. Now I have the thorough belief that to empower women, we must raise their awareness on equal rights and access to legal services.
Living in a refugee camp is already difficult. Being a woman living in a refugee camp comes with certain other challenges, including not knowing what abuse is and where to seek help when needed.
After attending the legal sessions, I realized the fundamental importance to support women going through hardship.
One day a woman came to me, she was distraught by the verbal abuse she was facing every day by men in the camp; fulfilling simple tasks outside of the house, would fill her with dread. I encouraged her to stand up for her rights and resort to ARDD office where they can support her with the protection services she required.
That is when I began to share the information on women’s rights and how to access legal services in the camp with other women. I started up an initiative in my district to raise awareness among women about their rights, explaining how to deal with the processes of the various services available. After months of work, and by gaining their trust, I’m confident they now know that they should not be silent to injustice, claim their rights, fight against gender-based violence, and help other women around them.
The initiative started off in my local community but has gone beyond that. Many women reach out to me as a source of comfort and now I receive calls and messages from women living outside the camp. It makes me happy that I can help and empower these women.
We all have got to look out for each other.”
Samaher, 35, has made it her goal to empower women by raising their awareness on equal rights and access to legal services in Za’atari refugee camp. With the generous support of the European Union, through the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syria Crisis, the EU MADAD Fund and the Governments of France and Japan, UN Women and ARDD supports 160 refugees in Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps with access to legal awareness and non-stigmatizing protection services. Samaher's path to empowerment reflects Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality and women’s empowerment, as well as SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.