Between Victim and Agent: Women’s Ambivalent Empowerment in Displacement


Rajasingham-Senanayake, Darini. 2004. “Between Victim and Agent: Women’s Ambivalent Empowerment in Displacement.” In Refugees and the Transformation of Societies: Agency, Policies, Ethics, and Politics, edited by Philomena Essed, Georg Frerks, and Joke Schrijvers. New York: Berghahn Books.

Author: Darini Rajasingham-Senanayake


Highlighting gross violations of women's bodies and space in situations of conflict and displacement has been part of an important intervention by activists and women's groups to promote women's rights as human rights internationally. The various and systematic forms of violence that women experience at the hands of armed combatants, whether state armies or paramilitary personnel, in situations of armed conflict and displacement was extensively documented in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and other parts of Africa and Asia. This process culminated in the UN resolution that established rape as a war crime and saw the appointment of the first UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women in 1994. But the focus on women as 'victims' of war and displacement in international human rights and humanitarian discourses may have also resulted in the elision of how long-term social upheaval might have transformed gender roles and provided new spaces for women's agency.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Gender-Based Violence, Humanitarian Assistance, International Law, International Human Rights, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2004

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at