World Refugee Week 2023

World Refugee Week is celebrated every year to honour the resilience of refugees worldwide – women whose courage, strength and hope enable them to rise above their circumstances and not only heal but to rebuild.

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World Refugee Week

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A record number of people have been forced to flee their homes

1 in 5 refugee or internally displaced women have faced sexual violence

100 million people forcibly displaced worldwide

90% of the refugees from Ukraine are women and children

The power to rebuild

Honouring the strength and resilience of women refugees

World Refugee Day on the 20th of June and World Refugee Week (19th-25th of June) are marked every year to honour the strength and resilience of refugees around the world.

With women often suffering the brunt of displacement – from being subjected to sexual and gender-based violence as they flee their homes and occupy camps, to being responsible for rebuilding the lives of their families and communities after conflict – the challenges women refugees face are immense.

The theme of World Refugee Week this year is compassion, so join us in showing refugee women that you recognise the obstacles and barriers they face and believe in their power to overcome them. 

Please consider supporting our work by making a donation to help women survivors of war heal from the trauma of war and rebuild their lives. In Ukraine, South Sudan, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo we are standing in solidarity with women who have been forcibly displaced from their homes. The need is greater than ever and now is the time to step up.

Seve, a refugee woman from Iraq, and her family.
Nearly 260,000 Syrian refugees reside in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), each carrying the trauma of their flight while struggling to find basic accommodation and food on dwindling resources or debt. Photo credit: Alison Baskerville.



Refugee women and girls face specific challenges including discrimination, psychosocial trauma, sexual and gender-based violence and risk of human trafficking.

Stories of strength and resilience

Syrian refugees in Iraq

Since 2017, we have been working with Syrian refugee women in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to empower them with the knowledge, skills and support they need to rebuild their lives after the devastation of war.

Watch this video to meet two strong and inspiring refugee women from Syria: Zubeida, our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme graduate and Nermin, who works for Women for Women International in Iraq.

Photo credit: Flickr
Ilhan Omar made history by becoming the first Somali-American legislator in the United States. Photo: Flickr


Six incredible refugee women who have used their power to make a difference

From actresses to politicians, filmmakers to human rights activists, refugee women have made their mark in the world, all while driving positive change.

Art therapy is helping women fleeing Ukraine heal from the trauma.
Art therapy is helping women fleeing Ukraine heal from the trauma. Photo credit: Bereginja

The Healing Power of Art Therapy for Women Fleeing Ukraine

Working with our partner Bereginia to support Ukrainian refugees

The lives of millions of people from Ukraine have been shattered by the Russian invasion - but thanks to the healing power of art therapy, women still have hope.

Help her heal

When war and insecurity take hold, women bear the heaviest burden of violence, poverty and inequality.

Help women survivors of war heal from the trauma of war and build brighter futures for themselves and their families.

Learn more

Shocking statistics and clickbait headlines perpetuate damaging stereotypes about refugees. By unpicking common myths and misconceptions, we increase our understanding and are better placed to help refugees heal and rebuild their lives.


In 2018, Leila's village in Damascus, Syria was bombed, killing two of her children and injuring her daughter so badly that she still struggles to walk properly today. Despite their injuries, Leila and her daughter made the difficult to decision to leave their home and seek asylum in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In the face of immense grief, Leila knew that she needed to move forward for the sake of her family.



As the global refugee crisis has reaches a record high, it is crucial now more than ever to understand the obstacles facing refugees. This World Refugee Week, we have put together a list of seven must-see movies that provide an insight into the refugee experience and their powerful stories of survival.


In recent years, refugee literature has provided a way of educating the public about the truth behind the refugee experience. Women for Women International believes that knowledge is power, so check out our World Refugee Day Reading List to grow your awareness and understanding of the refugee experience for your own personal reading and to share with others.


In Mariupol, Olga sang pop and folk music with her group, Melody, who made it onto Ukrainian X-Factor and her husband was the Head of Mariupol’s orchestra. When war broke out, Olga made the perilous journey across the border to Poland with her son, Max, and her parents. Her husband stayed behind in Ukraine.  


Meet six incredible refugee women - from Syrian activist Waad al-Kateab to actress and singer Marlene Dietrich - who have used their power to make a difference.