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Set Them Free UN Women CSW 63 Panel Series

Set Them Free attended the Commission on the Status of Women 63rd Session by organizing 3 panel sessions on the social integration of women refugees into their host countries and promotion of the women and girls rights.

The events started on March 13, Wednesday with the “Role of Education in Challenging Cultural Barriers for Women`s Empowerment” panel discussion where the panelists discussed the most widespread cultural challenges girls and women face all around the world. The panel was organized in partnership with the Set Them Free Atlanta Youth Group. Professor Monserrat Washburn was the moderator of this session. The panel started with the remarks of Monica Bajraktarevic, the Dean of Students at the Pioneer Academy. Ms. Bajraktarevic discussed the impact of cultural obstacles on women`s empowerment. By sharing her various professional experiences, she talked about how access to good quality education empowers young girls and change their lives. Sueda Polat, Freshman at the Emory University, discussed the justice system in Turkey and by providing some statistics, she overviewed several case studies of sexual assaults from Turkey. Lastly, Sibel Olcal, Sophomore at the Forsyth Central High School, and Gulsima Duranel, Freshman at the Fulton Science Academy School, talked about how child marriages hinder girls` empowerment.

March 15, Friday set off with the Set Them Free panel discussion on the “Civil Society Contributions to the Integration of Refugee Women”. Esra Aydin, the Communications Director of the JWF and NY Representative of the Set Them Free, gave an overview of the Turkish refugee women in Turkey and talked about Set Them Free`s best practice of “Sisters Without Borders: ESL & German Online Language Classes”. Following Ms. Aydin, Yalda Afif, the Employment Specialist of HIAS New York discussed the CSO contributions to the socio-economic empowerment of refugee women. Youstina Youssef, the Gardner Public Service Fellow of the International Refugee Assistant Project discussed the legal perspective of the refugee women`s journey and how legal assistance can create major differences in refugee women`s empowerment. Lastly, Attorney Ann Graham contributed to the law perspective with her years of experience and shared several CSO best practices that she contributed in Texas.

Following this discussion, the “Women as Survivors of Conflict” panel took place in partnership with the Advocates of Silenced Turkey. Moderator Heidi Hoover from the Beth Shalom v`Emeth Reform Temple, set the platform to discuss the challenges that refugee women face in their resettlements. The author Patricia Holt from Atlanta, shared several important figures and facts on the experiences of refugee women. Following her remarks, The Atlanta Leader of Interplay, Christine Nichols Gautreaux, talked about the best practices to support survivors of conflict. She also engaged with the audience and invited everyone to practice several skills that will enable women to handle challenges in a more convenient way. Zeynep Begum Girdap, a Sophomore Student at the Denmark High School, presented a specific evaluation on the persecuted women in Turkey. Ms. Girdap talked about the social difficulties that surviving women in Turkey face in terms of finding new jobs and empowering themselves. The last speaker of this session, Bahriye Agu, a Junior Student in Milton High School, mentioned about the problems that Turkish Refugee women face while escaping the witch-hunt in Turkey.

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