Date of Meeting: 17 March 2016

ISJC Staff Present: Christine Volet-Sterckx

Reporter: Christine Volet-Sterckx

Which SDG does this topic cover? 5, 8, 16

Type of meeting: CSW Side Event

Brief summary of presentation of information made

Faith Nibb: Director of the forced Migration Innovation Project and research, southern Methodist University

reminded us that encouraging education and empowerment leads to Social transformation. Since 1975, a lot of access to training has been developed: English courses, empowerment, and apprenticeships to integrate women into the work forces. Often, the migrant women do not even have a primary school level, often they have two jobs in order to meet the needs of their families, and therefore, they do not have time for education.
We need to increase the access to education for women, (taxes credits, employment facilitation …) to give them more possibilities to learn.
Often they need 5-7 years until they are able to attend high school. We should develop models that allow them to increase their integration (for example – learning English at the same time that they complete their studies.)

Cultural factors:
All the rules for higher education have been written by men.
It is first the men who go to school (reinforced by both sides of the culture)

We can rethink the worktime to allow the women to study.
Refugee women do not learn in a traditional (occidental) way: for example the internet is not something they know when they arrive, but it can give them many new possibilities.

They need a place “out of the table”.
Usually, they are good at telling stories.
They need to share among them about gender differences, divorce, abuse, sexual issues, depression, trauma, etc…
They need a good platform to speak their mind; they need safe places.

Pauline Muchina, Project Director of healthy Families, Healthy Planet, General Board of Church & Society

The number of refugees increased. Often these women did not choose to be refugees. We need to understand the force that draws those people to leave their home. (Great loss and suffering: as they try to find security and safety. It is a trauma that will impact their whole life for a long time).
The refugees are often scapegoated; the girls and the women are in great danger. They have less access to support and help, to health and social services.

What can the church do?

1. Human rights and dignity are inalienable; they cannot be taken away.

2. Everybody has a right to live in freedom. Any system that does not respect the freedom of human beings is an offence against God.

3. We are, as the church, are the voice for the refugees.

4. We have to be there and serve them: they are created in the image of God and deserve a better life.

Fatma Zehra Colak-Altun, Director of internal Affairs, Kimse Yok mu,
She observes the Syrian refugees in Turkey: is there a lost generation? There are children and young people who are living in camps for more than 4 years and often visit temporary Education centers.

Here are the practical obstacles:
Language, lack of information about education possibilities, the school quality in camps and around, and the lack of space for students and teachers.
She proposes to develop a holistic model of education recovery place where we:

  • consider the background of the students,
  • involve the parents,
  • teach life skills,
  • offer a lunch time,
  • offer afterschool programs and activities.

Cynthia Nunes Colbert, President/CEO, catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
1/7 is an emigrant in the U.S. (27, 9%) This will increase as follows: 2030: 55,8%, 2050: 80,8 % (considering family growth)

Houston will become a more multicultural and multi ethnical world.
Already today, 25% people are living in poverty.

What do we do?
As soon as they arrive in the airport, we welcome them (usually with somebody who speaks their language), we give them a home with basic furniture, we help them with grocery shopping, we teach them how to connect with social and health services, we organize vocational programs, and support them until they get a job.
We also support them with education courses; we can help them see their potential and resources.

We provide literacy programs and English courses. (Intensive courses)

We offer family support to allow women to go to school. We take into consideration the previous knowledge and support accreditation.

Sarah Anne Kauffam. Houston Area Director, Refugees of Texas

The priorities are: early employment and financial sustainability. Those two elements help the refugees to regain control of their own lives.

She confirms a discrepancy among refugees. Women have 10-15 years less of education then men, 2/3 are illiterate. 

What was of particular significance to share with The Salvation Army globally?

The “holistic model of education recovery place” described by Fatma Zehra Colak-Altun gives us a good guideline for our children’s programs, not only in refugee camps or centers, but also in post emergency programs.

Tags: United Nations, Women, SDG4: Quality Education, SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG5: Gender Equality