Mainstreaming Gender in Refugee Protection


Freedman, Jane. 2010. “Mainstreaming Gender in Refugee Protection.” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 23 (4): 589–607.

Author: Jane Freedman


The issues of gender-related persecution and violence against women have been put onto the international agenda, largely thanks to lobbying by feminist NGOs and transnational networks. There is a question, however, of how successfully this agenda-setting has translated into effective policy-making and policies that will increase the protection of women who are victims of gender-related persecution. One of the problems with policies to support women refugees and asylum seekers lies in a failure of transmission of the goals of gender sensitivity through all the various bureaux and representatives of a large bureaucratic organization such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For nearly twenty years, since the early 1990s, the UNHCR has identified ‘refugee women’ as a policy priority, and yet, despite this prioritization of concerns about women refugees and gender issues in the asylum and refugee process, it could be argued that little progress has been made in implementation of policies on refugee women. This article will examine the way in which the concept of gender has been adopted within the UNHCR and the processes that have been put in place to mainstream gender within refugee protection activities. How far has mainstreaming managed to move policies to protect women beyond a mere focus on ‘vulnerable’ groups, and to integrate a gendered understanding of the global processes that produce refugees, and of the protection needs of these refugees?

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Gender Mainstreaming, International Organizations

Year: 2010

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