Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

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Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Peace & Conflict Studies Department

First Advisor

Sa'ed Atshan


In a 2019 photo series, Federica Valabrega of NPR shares the stories of twelve Central American women applying for asylum at the US-Mexico border. Some of them are mothers seeking a better life and opportunities for their children, some are young women escaping everyday gender-based violence and discrimination in their home countries, and many of them are fleeing domestic violence. Along with the pictures, Valabrega accounts their individual backgrounds, the trials of their journeys north, and the difficulties of the asylum and border crossing process. The photos show the women in the temporary camp at the border where they must wait for their asylum claims to be processed—after the difficult and dangerous journey north, they must now join the list of 5,000 other asylum seekers in an extended process that very rarely guarantees them the protection of asylum in the United States. Some of these women, and many Central American migrants in general, may attempt to cross the border illegally if they are not granted asylum. Despite the threat of violence, deportation, and family separation, migrant women, like those in Valabrega’s series, will do whatever it takes to ensure a better future for themselves and their children. The courage and strength demonstrated by Central American women in this context is a crucial part of understanding the migration and refugee crisis today because it shows the gravity of the situation, and the necessity of making social and legal changes to protect the human rights, lives, and futures of migrants.