By Georgina Pickers

NCWQ Human Rights Adviser

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The human tide of refugees flooding into Eastern Europe en route to perceived countries of wealth and opportunity in the West has overwhelmed authorities and aid agencies.

The United Nations UNHCR is pleading with countries to be accommodating and charitable. The burden appears to be falling on wealthy nations such as Germany, Austria and other European Community members. It is surprising that there is no inclination for these refugees to assert refugee claims or sanctuary in wealthy Arabian countries nearby. The expectation of those who’ve arrived and those opportunistic refugees following, who are asserting Human Rights claims using the current chaos of numbers is now a global issue and a perplexing one. The Australian government has agreed to take a further 12,000 refugees in addition to 13,750 places already set aside for this financial year. While this figure is tiny compared to over 600,000 Syrian refugees registered in UNHCR camps in nearby countries it has to be balanced with the capacity to adequately provide for arrivals and their eventual assimilation into Australian communities.

Physical, mental, financial controlling abuse contravenes Articles 1,2,3,5 and 7 of the UN Convention for Human Rights. And in some cases Article 4 relating to Servitude Slavery. While broadly speaking the articles relate to all ages and genders, they particularly resonate in women today.

It is therefore fitting that one of the International Council of Women’s (ICW) Plans of Action 2015-2018 Triennial Themes is “Transforming Society through the Empowerment of Women”.

In particularly to:

– Monitor and report on the situation of violence against women and girls’ in their respective country.

– Formulate and implement programmes to urge that governments and international organizations take stronger measures against violence, including stronger criminal penalties, anger management programmes and the protection of victims.

– Monitor and report on the discrimination in women and girls’ equal access to all levels of education including rural and remote areas  As ICW President Jung Sook Kim said: ”Basic needs are basic rights”

Closer to home, the economic well-being of women, in particular, older women is being focused on by NCWQ, who are undertaking a Poverty and Homelessness Project. For women over 50 financial independence is critical given inadequate superannuation, limited access to private or public housing, and reliance on a pension.

The Economic S4W Lifelong Economic Wellbeing for Women Survey is an important step in establishing the financial vulnerability of women who dedicate their lives (and sacrifice careers) to raising the next generation of Australians. For more information or to participate in the survey visit: www.security4women.org.au/economic-wellbring    

The Lady Musgrave Trust has printed the 2015-16 Edition of “A Handy Guide for Homeless Women”. While concentrated on services available in Brisbane and immediate surrounding areas it does details 1300 phone numbers for women living in regional areas. E.g. Elder Abuse: 1300 651 192 and Domestic Violence Support: DV Connect Women’s Line 1800 811 811

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