Today is World Refugee Day

Today, as we shine a spotlight on the need to ensure that women and girls in refugee settings have access to family planning, we also remember our colleague Jennifer Schlecht. Jenn was an unyielding champion for the rights of women and girls in crisis situations around the globe. She devoted her career to ensuring that women and girls in crisis situations have access to the best medical care possible including family planning and other reproductive health care. Tragically, like millions of women and girls around the world, Jenn and her daughter Abaynesh were victims of domestic violence. We remember Jenn as a vital part of the FP2020 family and an adoring mother, and her contribution to the lives of women and girls who are living in crisis situations was extraordinary.

On World Refugee Day 2019, Jenn shared this message with the FP2020 team:

Today is World Refugee Day.

It is a day that we remember and stand with the millions displaced by conflict and natural disasters. Their displacement is not a crime. The delivery of services and supports to the women and girls affected by crises, is not a favor, but a fundamental right. 

Although we spend a lot of time on advocacy and programs….

I hope that today, we each take a minute to hold in your mind a woman or adolescent girl that you may have met in your work, at our workshops, or perhaps someone you have read about in the news. It may a woman on our own southern border, a young woman caught in the current strife in Sudan, or within a conflict or natural disaster in South Sudan, Bangladesh or Mozambique. The examples are plentiful. But take a minute to think of them first as a woman or young girl. One who has grown up with great potential and hope, had friends, and daily routines and hobbies, and someone who undoubtedly wants an education and the best for her family or children.  

There is not a refugee I have met who does not wish they could be in their own home and surrounded by safety and those that they love. Amidst the rhetoric of today- this is often overshadowed by another narrative.  I would be honored if today you would take one moment to feel connection or similarity to the women and young girls who are displaced by crises. 

We at FP2020 should feel proud of all that we do to unlock barriers that trap women in a narrative that they did not chose by ensuring their access to FP. Today, I hope you also feel a particular pride that we working to solve some of the intractable challenges that prevent FP access for women and adolescent girls in crises today. They  are in fact the easiest to stigmatize, leave behind or forget during this time in history.

On World Refugee Day it is so important that we all stand with refugees.

Jennifer Schlecht
Senior Advisor, Emergency Preparedness and Response, FP2020