Women's Commission for Refugee Women & Children

by Laura Moorhead


In these brief reports, students respond to questions about the migration perspectives of an assigned im/migrant agency or organization, based on their Internet research. These annotations will compile a resource list to serve as a guide for the class and others concerned with im/migration issues.

A.    Title of agency or organization?

Women’s Commission for Refugee Women & Children

B.     Where is home base (city/state/country)?

New York, New York. USA

C.     Date founded?

Founded in 1989

D.    Names of key spokespersons/officers

Carolyn Makinson, Executive Director.  Mary Anne Schwalbe, Founding Director.  Liv Ullmann, Board of Directors Honorary Chair.

E.     What/who is key constituency or audience?

This organization offers assistance to all refugee families, women and children.  Most recently, much help has been offered the displaced people from areas such as Afghanistan, Colombia, Kosovo, Rwanda, and Sudan.  Spokespersons primarily address government and immigration agencies to advocate for protection and refugee rights in the United States.

F.      What are the agency’s main activities?

This organization primarily offers care and protection for refugee women and children from war torn countries.  They are also advocates for bringing long term change by petitioning for change in United States government and UN policies by using testimonials from rescued women and children.

G.    Mission statement? (you may quote mission statement if available; use quotation marks)

 “The Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children works to improve the lives and defend the rights of refugee and internally displaced women, children and adolescents.  We advocate for their inclusion and participation in programs of humanitarian assistance and protection.  We provide technical expertise and policy advice to donors and organizations that work with refugees and the displaced.  We make recommendations to policy makers based on rigorous research and information gathered on fact-finding missions.  We join with refugee women, children and adolescents to ensure that their voices are heard form the community level to the highest councils of governments and international organizations.  We do this in the conviction that their empowerment is the surest route to the greater well-being of all forcibly displaced people.”

H.    What are the key im/migration issues of concern to this agency?

The agency main concern is the fair treatment of displaced women and children seeking asylum in the United States.  Many women are treated unfairly by being detained in prisons or Immigration and Naturalization detention centers upon arrival without having access to the asylum system.  The agency is also concerned about the safety of women in children and areas of turmoil, taking actions to prevent exploitation such as trafficking and abuse.

I.       What appears to be the most common informational basis for statements issued, press releases, reports, etc.?

The agency conducts its own field work and research.

Press releases are issued once a month, mostly concerning current issues on the treatment of displaced women and children around the world, and also on congressional hearings pertaining to the agency’s agenda.  Articles are also periodically released in newspapers and journals.

J.       Any publications? (what types, sample titles; if online, give links)

The agency sends out a quaterly newsletter The Women’s Commission News featuring articles such as “Trafficking: A Scourge Affecting Refugee Women and Children” (summer 2004). 

Articles and other sources available at www.womenscommission.org         

Videos and teaching materials are also published through the agency.

K.    Give at least one citation of this agency in a newspaper article (preferably an Arizona newspaper). Use a citation index to research this e.g., Lexis Nexis, available from the Migration Course Web Page made by the Fletcher Library:  http://library.west.asu.edu/subjects/SOC/soc331.html  Provide a quote from the article that gives a good idea of this agency’s perspective on im/migration.  Note: not a quote from agency’s own web site.

Wendy Young, a director of Women’s Commission for Refugee Women & Children, issued a statement to the law office of U.S. Attorney Marcos Jimenez about the charging of asylum seekers carrying false documentation. “It has come to our attention that your office has once again begun systematically charging asylum-seekers with criminal offenses if they arrive with false documents in their attempts to seek refuge from persecution at home," they said. "We urge you to discontinue this policy and would very much appreciate a meeting with you so that we can further discuss our concerns.”

Miami Daily Business Review. 


L.  Other issues of interest?

This agency also conducts field research by sending professional teams to areas of conflict to meet with refugee women and children and observe their living conditions and economic situations. 

M.  Is the agency noticeably pro or con immigration? (you may need to determine this from readings its position papers, press releases, news reports, etc)

This agency appears to be in favor of immigration, especially for those who are being persecuted at home and thus must seek asylum or protection elsewhere.

N.    Web site? Give URL






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