On Wednesday 20th June, Isabel and Flora went to the ‘Women’s Worlds at the Crossroads’ talk at Somerville College as part of Refugee Week. It was a highly informative panel talk at which we heard inspirational and moving stories from women refugees and from those who work to defend their rights and support their needs.
The talk aimed to explore the specific issues which women refugees face in the UK, and opened with Catherine Briddick from the Refugee Study Centre explaining some of the legal barriers which women refugees can face. We then heard from Councillor Peymana Assad of Harrow Council, who discussed her own family’s journey from Afghanistan, followed by Fatou Ceesay from Refugee Resource who highlighted the importance of support networks for women refugees. The final speaker was Councillor Shaista Aziz, who talked about women’s political agency and the need to promote the voice of women refugees and migrants.
Although the speakers were discussing serious and concerning issues, the mood was firmly rooted in the celebration of what women refugees can achieve and what they contribute to the community. We were treated to a range of wonderful food cooked by women from the Refugee Resource Women’s Group, who have produced a cookbook full of their recipes. Alongside the delicious food, we heard a musical performance of Shukria Rezaei’s moving poem ‘My Hazara People’. It was a reminder of the enrichment which results when refugees are able to share their creativity and talents with the community.