March 2, 2016, by Charlotte Anscombe

World-wide welcome? Plight of female refugees to be debated at Nottingham event

More than half a million of Syria’s refugees are thought to be pregnant, and many women make the dangerous passage to Europe alone or with young children: what physical and psychological challenges do they encounter on their journey? And what do they face when they arrive in new cities like Nottingham?

On International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March,  The University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University are holding a joint event to discuss the plight of female refugees.

They will tackle some of the following questions: What does gender look like at the borders? What is the politics of refugee women’s integration? What impact do our current human rights laws have on women refugees and asylum seekers? How do we stereotype refugee women?

Dr Hannah Durkin, postdoctoral co-director of the Centre for Research in Race and Rights at The University of Nottingham, organised the event. She said: “We’re facing a global refugee crisis right now. I think it’s really important to reflect on what refugees are going through and what we can possibly do to help. We’re focusing on women as they’re particularly vulnerable. Family separation is a huge issue. Many women are being forced to bring up children and even to give birth alone in unsafe environments. Yet we rarely hear about these things in the media.”

Dr Helen O’Nions, senior lecturer and asylum expert at Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University, said: “Refugee management is now one of the biggest issues facing the European Union. The journey into Europe is dangerous and expensive, consequently those who manage to make asylum claims are overwhelming adult males. Consequently our perception of those who need sanctuary is distorted.

“It is easy to forget the women and children left behind in positions of insecurity and extreme vulnerability. It should not be assumed that those who stay behind are not in need of protection. This seminar offers a chance to think more about these issues and to consider the unique and complex position of women asylum seekers and refugees.”

The event, World-Wide Welcome?: A Nottingham Dialogue on Women Refugees, is being hosted by four leading research centres; The Rights and Justice Research Priority Area (The University of Nottingham); The Centre for Conflict, Rights and Justice (Nottingham Trent University); The Centre for Research in Race and Rights (The University of Nottingham);

Experts involved in the debate include gender and migration specialist Dr. Leah Bassel (University of Leicester), media and migration expert Dr. Olga Bailey (Nottingham Trent University), human rights and asylum specialist Dr. Helen O’Nions (Nottingham Trent University), and Victoria Mponda and Edith Luck-Weh from the Women’s Culture Exchange (Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum) which works with women refugees and asylum seekers.

The event will be held at Nottingham Trent University’s Newton building from 18:30 to 20:30. It is free to attend and open to all but registration is required

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