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Today more people live under the status of “refugee” than at any other point in modern history. Nearly 50 million people around the globe have been displaced from their homes and communities, causing a global crisis.

World Refugee Day, held on June 20 each year, commemorates the “strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees.” This year, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has launched the #WithRefugees campaign to mobilize public support of refugees ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in September. #WithRefugees calls for assurances from host governments on education, safety and employment rights for refugees.  

Half of displaced and refugee populations worldwide are women and girls. In times of instability, women and girls consistently bear a disproportionate burden of poverty, violence and prejudice. For these reasons and more, women leaders are critical to finding sustainable solutions to this global crisis.  

One of these women is Nadia Bushnaq, a dedicated women’s rights advocate and member of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network. As President and Executive Director of the Family Guidance and Awareness Center (FGAC) in Zarqa, Jordan, Nadia is dedicated to improving the lives of refugees, women and other marginalized populations.

Established in 1996, the FGAC aims to empower women socially and economically as a means to holistically guide families toward better lives. For the FGAC and Nadia, refugees remain an important focus of their work. The Center provides legal assistance, psychosocial support and education services for refugees in Jordan which constitute a major part of the Center’s daily work. Since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, more than 600,000 Syrian refugees have fled to Jordan. Today, much of Nadia’s work serves Syrian refugee populations, but in the past her organization has served a large number of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees as well.

Nadia’s programs help women and girls overcome the lasting effects of domestic violence, rape, child labor, early and forced marriage, and other emotional traumas to empower themselves and their families. Women and girls are at an increased risk for violence, assault, exploitation and sexual harassment especially during conflict and in post-conflict rehabilitation periods. Nadia designs and leads training programs to help women, especially refugee women, regain a semblance of normalcy after violence.

Nadia is a true leader in her community who continues to empower women every day. She stands apart as a woman of courage and compassion against a sea of indifference and neglect. Her tireless pursuit to end gender-based violence and support women refugees has won awards, but it is her continued collaboration with Vital Voices that has spread her influence across the region. Nadia has served as an important resource for our work in the Middle East and North Africa to end gender-based violence and early and forced marriage.

Nadia is committed to continuing her work on this issue, in the hopes of realizing tangible change and impact. Learn more about her efforts to end gender-based violence and support refugees, and join the global conversation through the #WithRefugees campaign.