New project will make voices of refugee women heard

A new project launched by Scottish Refugee Council aims to bring the voices and experiences of refugee women to the ears of those in power.

As International Women’s Day takes place, the charity is beginning work on the two-year project, called Raising Refugee Women’s Voices: Rights, Advocacy and Access.

The first of its kind in Scotland, the project will see Scottish Refugee Council working alongside refugee women to get their voices heard by decision-makers in government, health and public life.

Nina Murray, women’s policy development officer at Scottish Refugee Council, said: “International Women’s Day is a chance to talk about improving lives for women from all walks of life, especially those who are in most need of help. Our research has shown that there is still a lot of work to be done by the UK Border Agency to ensure women are treated more fairly and humanely in the asylum system.

“Although service providers in Scotland have made progress in addressing the health and support needs of asylum-seeking women over recent years, this project will provide a focus for developing and expanding this valuable work, helping to ensure that vulnerable women are not exposed to prolonged suffering, destitution or abuse.

“As cuts to the refugee advice sector begin to bite, it’s more important than ever to ensure the needs of refugees are not overlooked. Many refugee women are powerful and determined but just need a little help to get their voices heard in the right places.” 

Belah Lydia Kacou arrived in the UK in 2002 from the Ivory Coast. After going through the asylum process she is now a British citizen, and is vice-chair of the Ivorian Women’s Group in Glasgow. “We see a lot of women who are really, really distressed and depressed with the asylum system, and stay all alone in their house. Being part of a group can really help.

‘International Women’s Day is a good chance to talk about the issues, it can give confidence to women and help them to express themselves – it makes me proud of how people are thinking about women.”

For more details, contact Karin Goodwin or Clare Harris on 0141 223 7927, 07734 030 763 or 07850 930 418, or email


Notes to Editors

The Raising Refugee Women’s Voices: Rights, Advocacy and Access project runs from February 2011 – February 2013, based at Scottish Refugee Council.

It has been established following research published in 2009 by Scottish Refugee Council which showed that high numbers of female asylum seekers and refugees had suffered from violence and mental distress. The report, Asylum Seeking Women, Violence and Health (produced in conjunction with the London School of Tropical Medicine’s Gender Violence and Health Unit), found that:


  • 70% of women interviewed reported having experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • 54% of the women reported that their health was worse in the host country than it was in their home country.
  • 20% reported suicidal thoughts in the seven days before being interviewed
  • Women reported high depression and anxiety levels, when compared to an average adult female population.

Read the full report, Asylum Seeking Women, Violence and Health

Scottish Refugee Council provides help and advice to those who have fled human rights abuses or other persecution in their homeland and now seek refuge in Scotland.

We are a membership organisation that works independently and in partnership with others to provide support to refugees from arrival to settlement and integration into Scottish society. We campaign to ensure that the UK Government meets its international, legal and humanitarian obligations and to raise awareness of refugee issues.


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