For our #WomenAcrossCareers blog series, we are highlighting 6 immigrant and refugee women in activism. These women represent activism from all over the globe from immigration rights to women’s rights.
Our #WomenAcrossCareers blog series is brought to you in honor of Women’s History Month and our (Her)story in the Making fundraiser. Your donation invests in the education and leadership development of immigrant and refugee women and girls. This helps our women and girls develop the confidence and self-sufficiency to be active members of their communities and beyond. Thank you.
1. Razia Sultana
WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Razia Sultana is a Rohingya activist, lawyer, and educator. Razia was born in Myanmar but her family sought refuge in Bangladesh when she was just a baby. In 2017, Razia became a full-time activist for Rohingya women’s rights after speaking at the UN Security Council about the violence and persecution of the Rohingya. Her testimony led her to receive a prestigious International Women of Courage Award.
Since then, Razia has continued to document stories of Rohingya women in the Bangladesh refugee camps. The women recounted stories of sexual violence, torture, and intimidation enacted both in Myanmar and within the camps.
Razia has started her own women’s center to promote women’s rights and end violence against women in the camps. She counsels both men and women on feminism and women’s rights; and runs sessions to promote self-confidence and self-worth to encourage women empower themselves.
2. Anila Noor
REFUGEE RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Anila is a refugee rights activist, policymaker, and social entrepreneur. She was born and raised in Pakistan where she worked with minority communities and women who experienced sexual violence. Due to the political instability in Pakistan, Anila was forced to migrate to the Netherlands in 2013.
While in the Netherlands, Anila observed that refugee women experienced many challenges in navigating the resettlement system. Limited resources made it difficult for women to live independently and many women were forced to stay in unhealthy relationships in order to survive. This led Anila to form New Women Connectors to help refugee women advocate for themselves and connect them to immigrant and refugee women from across Europe. New Women Connectors is a movement that advocates for the inclusion of women in policy rather than integration.
Anila continues to advocate for an inclusive refugee agenda with a focus on Forced Migration, Asylum, Refugee Policies and Advocacy for the Rights of Migrants.
3. Angy Rivera
IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ACTIVIST
Angy is a Colombian American activist for undocumented immigrants. She solidified her presence in the immigrant rights movement by the time she was just 20 years old. Angy came to the US with her mother when she was just a child and didn’t realize the extent to which her undocumented status would impact her education until she began the process to apply to college. As an undocumented immigrant, Angy wasn’t able to apply for FAFSA or provide a social security number for college applications.
This led Angy to be involved with the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC), which paved the way for her work in activism. She then started an online advice column called “Ask Angy” to support and connect with undocumented youth in the US.
Angy hopes that her activism work can better inform educators on how to support undocumented youth who want to attend college. She is currently the Co-Executive Director of the same organization that supported her, NYSYLC.
4. Cristina Jiménez
IMMIGRATION REFORM ACTIVIST
Cristina is an organizer and immigration reform advocate. She and her family came to the US from Ecuador when she was 13. Her motivation to help undocumented youth emerged through her own struggles financing her college education. As an undocumented immigrant, Cristina didn’t qualify for financial aid. It was only with the out-of-pocket support of her family was she able to graduate from college.
Cristina co-founded the New York State Youth Leadership Council, an organizing and advocacy space for immigrant youth, and United We Dream (UWD), an immigrant youth-led network. UWD put pressure on the Obama administration to create DACA and protect young immigrants, allowing undocumented youth to go to college, work, and drive.
Cristina continues to advocate for policy reform to further protect immigrant youth so they can live free without fear.
5. Sabuni Francoise Chikunda
Francoise is an activist, community leader, counselor and school teacher. She escaped from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Uganda after being kidnapped, sexually violated and tortured in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. Francoise lost her entire family during the violence.
Despite the trauma she’d undergone, Francoise’s spirit persisted. She sought out meetings with women in her refugee settlement to share their experiences and, in turn, heal and move forward. These meetings led to the founding of the Kabazana Women’s Centre, which provides the women with training in various income generating activities. These trainings not only keep the women occupied from their trauma, but they also give women the skills to start a business. In 2020, Francoise was named one of the UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award regional winners for Africa.
6. Sima Wali
YOUTH EDUCATION ACTIVIST
Rozma is a football coach, youth counselor and an activist for refugee youth education. Originally from Afghanistan, Rozma’s family fled to Iran when the Taliban overran her hometown. Her family had financial struggles during their resettlement which caused Rozma to take on extra jobs and chores in between school work. Football became her method for coping.
She is the co-founder of the Youth Initiative Fund project, which is a community initiative aimed at getting refugee youth off the streets and into education. Since its founding in 2015, her project has helped about 400 children a year through inclusion sports, social activities, literacy and numeracy classes, and family counseling. Rozma feels that the activities help the children forget about their challenges just as football did for her.
Rozma continues to advocate to refugee youth education. She was awarded with the UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award in 2020 for her work in education with displaced youth.
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