Invisible Lives – Recommendations
The international community must significantly increase funding to meet the UN appeal targets for Syria and neighbouring countries, including Lebanon and Iraq. Without this Syrian women refugees, and indeed all refugees, will continue to live ever more precariously. This means they are likely to sink even further into poverty, and this is likely to create further social tensions in the region. In order to better support the improvement of livelihoods among Syrian women refugees in neighbouring countries, we recommend:
• Local authorities need to ensure that refugees can reside in neighbouring countries legally without discrimination. Procedures to maintain valid documentation and registration must be clear, accessible and affordable.
• International funding must double in line with pledges made at the London Conference, to promote livelihoods and support refugees to be more self-reliant.
• Programmes to support job creation through business training, skills development and the provision of employment services – especially to women, of all ages and abilities – should be stepped up.
• Women’s equality in the workplace should be promoted in line with Sustainable Development Goal 8 by supporting worker rights in relation to health, safety, childcare and remuneration.
• There is still a need for emergency livelihoods activities, such as cash-for-work programmes and small business grants, particularly for the most vulnerable households including single-headed households and those with older people and/or family members with disabilities, who do not have any income source.
• Agriculture-based activities, such as small gardens to grow basic food, should be more heavily promoted to increase employment and support food security.
Violence against women
• Increased funding and policy support are needed to strengthen gender-based violence prevention and response programmes.
• Funders and international aid agencies should do more to tackle GBV across livelihoods, education and health programmes, making more effective use of available tools and guidelines, such as the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP).
• Safety in refugee camps needs to be improved by providing better lighting, establishing separate bathrooms for men and women, and increasing women’s participation and leadership in helping to reduce danger zones in and around camps.
• Access to legal aid for women and girls needs to be expanded to support their quest for justice and overcome impunity.
• Concrete support is needed for sensitisation and training for local police and security services, accompanied by strong monitoring to assess the increase in protection and access to justice.
• Faith communities are key players in empowering and preventing gender-based violence, and this needs wider recognition. Religious and community leaders need to be equipped to help raise awareness, end stigma and challenge cultural norms that limit women’s access to public places.
• Better access is needed to high-quality formal and vocational education through the creation of new and expanded schools. This will require a doubling of current education funding to fulfil pledges from the London Conference.
• Non-formal education should be fully recognised and standardised by Ministries of Education through accreditation and referral systems, to ensure pupils are better able to re-enter formal education when possible.
• Greater funding is also needed to ensure that indirect costs, like books and transport, do not prevent children from accessing education, particularly for those attending evening classes.
• Barriers to education such as residency requirements and language barriers must be removed.
• Specific funding should be earmarked for teacher salaries and training, curriculum development, measures to ensure access and participation of children and teachers with disabilities.
In addition, the international community must do much more to help resettle Syrian refugees. Even with adequate international financial support to the authorities in Lebanon and Iraq, it is unlikely that sufficient jobs and school places for children can be created. Thus it will be critical for significantly more refugees to find new homes in other countries.