African lady smiling
Raising refugee women’s voices

I’ve been at Scottish Refugee Council for a few weeks now and am delighted to be supporting the development and influencing capabilities of the Refugee Women’s Strategy Group (RWSG). It’s fantastic to be working at grass roots level with real community groups again and to use my community development skills to help strengthen the voices of refugee and asylum-seeking women in Scotland.

Refugee Women’s Strategy Group – inspiring women – catalysts for change

What a fabulous group of inspiring women they are!  That’s my first (and continuing) impression of the Refugee Women’s Strategy Group (RWSG).

The RWSG was set up in 2004 following a refugee women’s conference.   Since that time, the group’s achieved a lot – including supporting refugee and asylum-seeking women to influence decisions that affect them and bring about positive changes in significant policy and service arenas!   No small feats!

Working with them is an honour – but admittedly sometimes challenging due to my lack of previous knowledge about specific details about issues affecting refugee and asylum-seeking women.

However, I’ve always been conscious of the complexity of asylum issues and how asylum seekers can be treated unfairly or portrayed negatively by the media who sometimes focus on negative public opinion.  But am relishing overcoming such challenges by raising awareness about refugee women’s experiences and replacing myths with truth.

A lack of gender sensitive services for refugee women

Since starting in August, I’ve learned so much about the issues affecting women refugees and asylum seekers and of the disappointing lack of gender sensitivity across so many of the key government services with whom these women are required to engage.

Each day is a chance to gain further insight into issues impacting refugee women.  And equally it’s an opportunity to rise to the challenge to overcome obstacles and continue to work together with refugee women to resolving problems impacting refugee women’s lives.

Join me on Radio Kilimanjaro on Wednesday 5 October

On Wednesday 5 October I’ll be making my radio debut on Radio Kilimanjaro  noon – 12:30.  Tune in to hear me talk about the Refugee Women’s Strategy Group, the areas of work we’re currently focusing on and how you can get involved.

Attend our autumn conference on 3 November focusing on refugee women

And remember you can help us raise refugee women’s voices and shine the light on the issues impacting their lives at our upcoming autumn conference.  Hope to see you there!

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Chris Pettigrew
Author: Chris Pettigrew