Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders

“The capacity of women to be agents of change in addressing refugee issues has been largely overlooked in government responses. […] One answer is that women and youth, when given the chance to lead, will provide solutions.”

A Call to Action: Transforming the Global Refugee System


Power & The Margins: The State of Refugee Participation

Published by the Global Refugee-Led Network and written by Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders (GIRWL) Co-founders Shaza Alrihawi, Anila Noor and Najeeba Wazefadost, with John Bolingo Ntahira and Christa Kuntzelman. With few exceptions, refugees have historically been excluded from systematic

Moving Beyond Storytelling and Empowering Refugee Women to Lead

Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders (GIRWL) Co-founder Najeeba Wazefadost spoke at the 10 November 2021 meeting of the Action Network on Forced Displacement: Women as Agents of Change, launched by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

16 Days of Activism: Awareness to Accountability

Virtual Conference — 17 December 2021 | 15:00–17:00 CET Watch the recording A virtual event hosted by Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders (GIRWL) in partnership with the World Refugee & Migration Council (WRMC) to mark the end of 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based

Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders (GIRWL) is a group of refugee women-led initiatives, networks, and advocates that works with and for refugee women to:

  1. Increase refugee women participation in shaping policies;
  2. Build refugee women’s capacity to engage locally, nationally, regionally and globally; and
  3. Strategically advocate for and promote inclusive human rights approaches to forced displacement.


GIRWL’s vision is to work with and for refugee women globally to increase women’s participation in shaping policies, building refugee women’s capacity to engage locally, nationally, regionally and globally, and to strategically advocate for and promote inclusive human rights approaches to forced displacement.

With gender as the key cross-cutting theme, GIRWL aims to build a global network of refugee women and refugee women-led initiatives to bolster refugee women’s ability to make meaningful contributions to decision-making processes. GIRWL advocates for refugee agency and self-representation, strengthen the collaboration between network members, relevant global initiatives and other stakeholders, and to guarantee positive changes to the global refugee architecture, including the development and humanitarian systems.

The goal of GIRWL is to empower, inspire and equip refugee women to become leaders in their homes and communities.


GIRWL was founded in December 2019 during the Global Refugee Forum to ensure that the commitments made to refugee women and girls in the Global Compact on Refugees — including gender equality, the implementation of the UNHCR Age Gender and Diversity (AGD) Policy and addressing the different needs of girls, women and men — are fully implemented.  

Support for the World Refugee & Migration Council’s work with GIRWL has been provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and through the Council’s partnership with Cuso International.

GIRWL Co-Founders


Shaza Alrihawi

Interim chair, Global Refugee-led Network/ European Coalition

Andrea Ayala-round

Andrea Ayala

Lesbian Human Rights Defender

Anila Noor

Anila Noor

Exec. Director New Women Connectors & Steering Committee Member Global Refugee-led Network

Barbara Romero

Bárbara Romero

Psychologist. Master in Social Sciences. Consultant & Researcher

Najeeba Wazefadost

Najeeba Wazefadost

Refugee and Gender Advocate, founding member of Global Refugee-Led Network and Asia Pacific Network of Refugees