Women and girls have been the lifeblood of REUK ever since a group of women set up the organisation 11 years ago. Hundreds of women have made REUK into what it is today.

Women have been participants on our programmes, coordinators of our programmes, dedicated volunteers on our mentoring programme and senior leaders directing the organisation. In the same way as Israa writes about her mum in the interview below, women have lifted REUK up to what it is today. It’s impossible to imagine it any other way. 

We asked each of them about their achievements, goals, the women who have inspired them and what International Women’s day means to them. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoyed producing them.

Young refugees are no different to other children, and make invaluable contributions to our society. We all deserve the opportunity to pursue our dreams. This World Refugee Day, we all need to protect the rights of young refugees. This World Refugee Day, we all need to be kind; because together, we make better worlds.

You can read the letter on the Unicef website, here:

The featured picture in this post is courtesy of Unicef and entitled 'Unity is Strength' and was drawn by 12-year old Kaninica from India

The chat we had with Israa is one in a set of interviews we held with four ‘women of REUK’. Israa and Rahel are both on the mentoring programme. Angel is part of our educational progression programme and is currently applying to university. Ayesha is a freelance contractor working with REUK on developing our new strategy for training.

Which women do you admire? ​

Given my mother has had 7 children, I can’t help but say my mother! She is strong, resilient and trust me when I say I wouldn't be here or where I am without her. Quite literally. And of course I also enjoy her food, her love and her care. Thank you mum for everything you do. I can’t imagine life without you. Other than that I feel like I admire many women, my friends who have been there when I needed them, they are achieving their dreams and they push me to achieve my dreams and do my best. My pastor is an amazing role model and I love working with her. Rosy from REUK who has been a support and someone who I can lean on when I need help. I am immensely grateful for all the women in my life who make me who I am today. Thank you.

Angel, 20, Lebanon. 

What have you been proud to achieve so far? ​

"I think this probably sounds a bit cliche, my grades, coming from a foreign country and having to learn a new language made my learning journey a tiny bit difficult. But look at me now! Applying to uni with really good  grades! But if I’m being honest, I would say that the connections you make along the way, I am so proud that I was able to make connections which will last and benefit me for a long time. I'm also proud of my family. That’s not an achievement but the friends and new people I have met along the way definitely are!"

What would you like to achieve? 

"Going to uni! I know its not a big thing, but going to uni is a very big thing for me. Learning and becoming the person I want to be, achieving my dreams, and leaving an impact, however big or small."

“International Women’s Day is a celebration. We should never forget the women of the past who have fought for women's rights, especially the right to vote. We should never forget the women who have helped to advance the science and education fields. We should never forget the women in our judiciary. Thanks to them we are here today. It should also be a reminder of the women who are still being discriminated against because of their gender. We should keep fighting for them. We are improving, but we still have a long way to go.”

– Angel

International Women's Day 2022 

Conversations with Women of REUK!

Israa, 17, Syria 

What have you been proud to achieve so far? ​

"My GCSE qualifications. Its been really challenging to learn English in less than 2 years and pass all my GCSES’s."

What would you like to achieve? 

"I want to achieve good grades in my A-levels so I can go to medical school so I can become a specialist cardiologist. I have always wanted to work in medicine. The main idea which inspired me to do this was war in Syria. I watched over a lot of students who were affected by war and I didnt want to stand there and not do anything about it. That’s when I decided I wanted to become a doctor and go back."

Which women do you admire? 

Just my mum! When I had a mental hole, when I was about 6 or 7, because of the war, she lifted me up. She said ‘hey look, you can help them, instead of just crying. She introduced me to what a doctor is, what a nurse is, she started teaching me from her medicine and nursing book. She inspired me. She wanted to be a nurse, but then she got married, so now I have the book! 

What would you like to achieve? 

"My big goal is to be a nurse. So I'm going to start next year a nursing course. Its quite scary, but I’ll be okay! It will be a bit difficult, but I will see what is going to happen.."

Which women do you admire? ​

My mother, and mothers in general. A mother is always a mother!  Mothers are always kind and treats you well. They have pure hearts! I admire all women! 

What does IWD mean to you? 

For me, it's about celebrating women, mothers. Every woman in every part of the world should celebrate! 

Rahel, mentee on REUK's south london mentoring programme

What have you been proud to achieve so far? ​

"Actually I have a lot of things to be confident about, but my only goal at the moment is to be a nurse. It teaches me a lot when I study with my mentor. When I study with my mentor it helps me a lot. When I started at college, I was thinking I should be a doctor, but then I changed my mind so now I am going to be a nurse!"

REUK noted at this point that since starting with her mentor 6 months ago, Rahel has progressed from Entry Level 1 in English and Maths to Level 1 (that's 3 whole levels, which usually can take up to three years!)

Which women do you admire? 

I have so many women role models! All of the women in my life are an inspiration to me in one way or another. My biggest role model is my maternal grandmother. She has never accepted the limitations that society has tried to place on her and she's followed her own path. She inspires me to keep pushing for what I know is right, regardless of the obstacles that stand in my way. 

What does IWD mean to you? 

For me, IWD is an opportunity to reflect on how I've supported other women to achieve their dreams and if I can be a better ally in the year ahead. Men have a significant role to play in the fight for equality but women must support each other, too.

Ayesha, Freelance Training Strategy Consultant

What have you been proud to achieve so far? ​

"Through my work in the education sector, I've supported a lot of young people in Latin America, some from challenging backgrounds, to study in the UK. Many of those students have gone on to university, launched meaningful careers and started families of their own. My heart bursts with joy for them and their achievements."

What would you like to achieve? 

"Ha ha! Ambition is great and has its place but I'm focused on being grateful for what I have right now. God has given me everything that I need and I'm going to enjoy it!."

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