Established in 1950 by the UN General Assembly, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) leads and coordinates international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems. The Agency's primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of uprooted and stateless people. This involves promoting and providing legal and physical protection, minimizing the threat of violence, and providing for basic material and medical needs in the immediate aftermath of an exodus, while taking into account the specific needs of women and other vulnerable populations. 
Recognizing the unique experiences, threats, and challenges women face as refugees, UNHCR has developed programmes to ensure that women have equal access to protection and basic goods and services.  The Agency's work on women, peace and security is guided by the High Commissioner's Five Commitments to Refugee Women.  Initiatives include "Women Leading for Livelihoods", the Age, Gender and Diversity Mainstreaming strategy as well as targeted action to help victims of SGBV.  The Agency's preventative efforts include awareness raising, safe learning initiatives, and the provision of alternative fuel to reduce the risks to refugee women and girls when out collecting firewood.  In 2008, the UNHCR released a Handbook for the protection of Women and Girls.