Women’s Refugee Commission Donates Historical Archives to Duke University Libraries

The Women’s Refugee Commission, which was known until January 2009 as the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, has agreed to transfer its inactive physical archives, including memoranda, correspondence and publications dating back to its 1989 founding, to the Libraries’ Archive for Human Rights.

Commission archives contain documents related to the organization’s research, advocacy and evaluation roles on issues ranging from reproductive health, to refugees with disabilities, to U.S. detention and asylum.

In 1994, the Commission’s groundbreaking study “Refugee Women and Reproductive Health: Reassessing Priorities,” the first comprehensive report on this issue, drew attention to the almost total lack of reproductive health services for refugees. Since then, the Women’s Refugee Commission has been in the forefront of advocacy efforts to improve policy, practice and funding for reproductive health. Since 2007, the Women’s Refugee Commission has led an international effort to find safer fuel alternatives to lessen/decrease risk the dangers—including rape and murder—that women and girls face when they leave refugee camps to collect firewood to cook meals for their families.

Actress/director Liv Ullmann, refugee experts Catherine O’Neill and Susan Martin, and others founded the Women’s Refugee Commission. Its board of directors and advisors includes women and men working at senior levels in human rights and refugee organizations, as well as in education, medicine, law, journalism, government and communications. Many of them are former refugees.