September 11, 2013 | Health and Well-Being, Violence Against Women, War and Peace

Syria: A Disaster for Women

How to help feed, shelter and empower

Peter Biro/International Rescue Committee

Syria: It's a problem, a political conundrum—and a disaster for women and children, who make up the bulk of the 2 million people who have fled the country. Even when they arrive in camps in neighboring countries, female refugees find little security; instead they're often subjected to rape and sexual harassment.

Shelter, water, medical care—all are in short supply in the camps. Fortunately, many international nonprofits are helping bridge that gap. Here are just a few humanitarian groups working in Syria. Click on each to learn more—and to donate:

International Rescue Committee

Refugees International

Women’s Refugee Commission

Mercy Corps

Action Against Hunger

There are also several groups helping empower women now, and for the days and years ahead. "That's not just a matter of being resource-seeking, where women are recipients of aid," says Sarah Taylor, executive coordinator of the Working Group on Peace, Women, and Security. "Women are actually agents within those camps that need to be recognized as basically heading up households and as leaders within that refugee situation."

Likewise, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom has been active throughout the Middle East and North Africa, equipping women with the knowledge they need to become effective leaders.

"There's a recognition that in this type of conflict situation, women's voices tend to and have been silenced first," adds Taylor. "We need to make sure that we as an international community are amplifying those voices and ensuring women have a voice in a peaceful future for their country and their community."