For International Womens' Day 2022, we hosted a talk from Anila Noor: a co-founder of Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders (GIRWL), a refugee-activist, TEDx speaker and researcher based in the Netherlands.

We've pulled together some of the key quotes from Anila's talk:

"Sexism and gender barriers are becoming normalised. They are so normalised that we forget that they are barriers, and that the system discriminates based on gender, and that it doesn't have to be this way. That's why people think we talk too much about gender equality. But we must continue to talk about it, until gender equality exists."

​"Everywhere, people assume that women have less to contribute. I was particularly shocked by this in Western Europe where, despite my undergraduate and two master's degrees, I was still only offered factory or cooking work. People try to justify this in countries like Pakistan by saying "we have fewer resources" etc. But such justifications cannot apply to Europe."

​"The main problem is that we always consider women's rights and gender equality as a second thought: we put the system in and then we consider how to make the system non-discriminatory. The answer is to think about gender equality from the outset – before we put the systems in – and in all facets of life, all of the time."

​"We are not here to compete with or criticise each other. We are not here to argue about who is most vulnerable. We are here to help each other."

"Particular challenges that female refugees face in Europe: (1) Administrative challenges: when I got refugee status I didn't even have my own refugee file, I was just a number on my husband's file. I wasn't even given this independence. (2) Financial challenges: women haven't been given as many opportunities to enter the labour market, and therefore find it much harder to do so in a new country as a refugee. (3) Invisibility: women have fewer platforms then men and are not listened to as much. The typical European integration plan for female refugees follows old, stereotypical routes and pushes women to stay at home."

​"It's not men versus women. Gender equality is about equality, where we all enjoy the same rights. This message needs to be encouraged. However, we must recognise that men have a privilege, and women are disadvantaged."

​"We should invest in women-led and refugee-led initiatives. With these, we can help fight the financial limitations which trap and silence women and female refugees. Otherwise, women and refugees will continue to have fewer seats at the table, and continue to be left out of decision-making."

​"Ordinary women are my inspiration. The work we do is tiring and there is a lot still to be done. Yet there are so many inspiring women who show up every day and continue doing the work."