On Tuesday, March 8th, several leaders within the global JRS network gathered to showcase their work for a Women’s Leadership Forum. Moderated by Joan Rosenhauer, JRS/USA Executive Director, and hosted by Molly Cashin and Kate Howe, dozens of attendees joined to watch as each participant described their unique program features and how their work contributes to the overall JRS mission—to accompany, serve, and advocate for refugees.
Heba Al Basha, Country Director for JRS Lebanon discussed the importance of the overall holistic approach they take to their work. A major goal for the women they serve is to “preserve their dignity and enhance their well-being,” whether that’s through home visits, activities at one of the three social centers they operate, or through a wide variety of educational services.
Melissa Padilla, Programs and Project Coordinator at the JRS Latin American and Caribbean Regional office, briefly described support groups, created at the local level for women who have suffered from gender-based violence. In these groups, women are provided the opportunity to openly discuss their concerns, interests and needs, while also given the chance to work on the “development of tools of reconciliation(s) with themselves and their environments.”
Expanding on the work towards reconciliation, Claudine Nana, the Reconciliation Coordinator with a focus on Chad, Uganda, and Tanzania, explained the guiding principles for the work they do on the ground with women. These principles are:
- Shared Humanity.
She emphasized the importance of creating the “safe and shared space” where women can “reconcile with their own story” of conflict in their communities.
And finally, Prae Ontira, the Accountability and Learning Specialist for Programs and Innovation at the International office, detailed her role of educating JRS colleagues in the field on maintaining accountability practices.
One of her main points was to acknowledge the “strong willingness to increase women’s participation” in the work of JRS, especially in areas that are highly patriarchal and don’t allow or encourage their participation. The solution? To promote and increase a culture of “Speak Up” via guidelines that work to eliminate the fear that women face when speaking up or making a complaint.
The forum was ended with a series of questions from attendees, eager to learn more about the work these women do for JRS. We want to sincerely thank each participant for their incredible accomplishments for women, and each attendee for their never-ending support. We’re not only proud of the women we serve, we’re proud of the women serving them.