EOU International Women’s Day 2017: Women in Asylum

International Women’s Day Event Wed 8th March 2017 16:00-19:00

Women in Asylum: Safeguarding and Support

Location: London Met University


To mark International Women’s Day 2017, the Evelyn Oldfield Unit looked at the challenges facing women asylum seekers in the UK, and how these can be overcome. For many of us, IWD is a cause to celebrate the achievements of women, which are often overlooked. However, it is also a day to remember that the gender playing field is far from level, and an opportunity to support those women who are still denied a voice. In this spirit, we focused on women who are going through the asylum process in the UK and considered how we can support them against the challenges facing them today.

As part of the Celebrating Women Project, this event involved short informative film screenings, a lecture on gender and asylum policy, and a panel discussion about how policy makers and RAS* rights advocates can support asylum-seeking women. The event featured notable activists from community and charity organisations. This includes women who have personal experiences of the UK asylum system, and use this to help those currently going through the process, as well as campaign for changes in legislation. Attendees had the opportunity to ask questions and network, as well as learn more about the effects of gender on the asylum process and resources available for refugees and asylum seekers.

All the resources from this event are available at any time at www.padlet.com/evelyn9/iwd



Dr Latefa Narriman Guemar: “Gender and the Asylum Process”

The first event of the afternoon was the lecture by Dr Latefa Narriman Guemar, on the topic of gender and its effects on the asylum process. Latefa is an experienced researcher with an interest in gender issues in forced migration, Diasporas and identities, who has acted as an expert on gender in asylum appeals. She currently runs the R4AI project at the Evelyn Oldfield Unit, and also works alongside WPP to empower refugee women.



London Refugee Women’s Forum: “Asylum is a Human Right” (19:24)

The London Refugee Women’s Forum is a group of women who have sought asylum in the UK, who are campaigning and speaking out about the issues that concern them. The members of the Forum come from many various countries, have presented evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, and spoken at several high profile events. This video details the need for changes to how gender is dealt with in asylum claims.

Protection Gap Advocates at Asylum Aid: “From Us to You” (3:17)

The Protection Gap Advocates are a group of refugee women campaigners, who have experienced first-hand the obstacles facing women going through the asylum system. They campaign for improvements to the system, especially in terms of gender sensitivity, and feel empowered by working together to achieve important reforms.



A panel of notable speakers from refugee and migrant organisations discussed the obstacles faced by women seeking asylum in the UK, and examined how we can safeguard and support these women.

The panel included:

  • Dr Latefa Narriman Guemar, MSc; PhD, has particular interest in gender issues in forced migration, Diasporas and identities. Currently leading the Research for Action and Influence project at The Evelyn Oldfield Unit, WPP.
  • Flo Todlana, member of the SWP steering group, researcher in Public Health Issues and interested in women’s issues. Volunteer at EOU currently carrying out research into migrant women’s employment support.
  • Wijdan Bazelya, outreach coordinator at Hear Women, an organisation working in UK and internationally to improve women’s health & wellbeing, advocate against gender-based violence and enable women to be in charge of their livelihoods
  • Khedijah Ali Mohammed-Nur, Protection Gap Advocate at Asylum Aid, supporting asylum seekers and using their experience as refugees to advocate for reform in the asylum system.

Audience members were encouraged to get involved in the discussion, asking questions and input into the conversation. Many took this opportunity and the discussion opened up to cover a wide range of issues such as housing, services and questions pertinent to the processing of asylum claims.


After the conclusion of this panel discussion, there were refreshments available and the opportunity to network with other attendees, many of whom represented RMCOs.

Many thanks to all those who attended – Happy International Women’s Day and let’s continue supporting vulnerable women together!