Women’s Rights, Culture, and Conflict Implementing Gender Policy in Amboko Refugee Camp, Chad


Hurley, Suzanne L. 2012. "Women’s Rights, Culture, and Conflict Implementing Gender Policy in Amboko Refugee Camp, Chad." Master's thesis, Graduate Program in Environmental Studies, York University.

Author: Suzanne L. Hurley


During armed conflict, gender-based violence is commonly used as a core military strategy to terrorize and demoralize the enemy, and to destroy social stability. Further, women and girls reaching internationally-sanctioned refugee camps continue to experience human rights violations as an extension of the conflict or because of heightened patriarchal practices. While the gender policy framework in UN camps is comprehensive, policy implementation is insufficient to provide equality and protection to refugee girls and women.

This dissertation is an examination of the implementation of international gender policy intended to promote and protect women's rights in Amboko Refugee Camp, Chad; a UNHCR camp established to shelter 12,000 refugees after the 2003 conflict in north-western Central African Republic. A critical social research framework using interviews, focus group discussions, informant surveys, and archival research is employed to analyse the nature of human rights risks to girls and women in the camp. Subsequently, through the prism of implementation theory, variables contributing to the implementation gap between policy and practice are identified.

The research findings establish that women's rights are routinely violated in the private sphere. International rights violations including early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and wife battery are routinely practiced within the family unit with impunity. The research suggests that the existing humanitarian rational-comprehensive policy implementation approach is inappropriate for highly contested policies requiring transformation of deeply entrenched gender roles, premised on the subordination and inferiority of women within the family, the community, and the state. Other identified critical variables contributing to implementation challenges include: agency commitment, the exclusion of location-specific causal analysis in the formulation of policy, inflexible goals and procedures, inadequate timing and resources, a judicial system which discriminates against women, and host-country and target group opposition to the policy.

An alternative synthesis model for gender policy implementation is proffered which emphasizes multi-level leadership, understanding of the contextual environment, conflict resolution at the target level, and community planning of implementation strategies. Critical to the proposed model is a refugee-centred process, involving women and men, which progressively lays the foundation for stakeholder leadership, commitment and collaboration to gender-transformative programming.

Through theory informing humanitarian field practice, the research expands the understanding of the relationship between international humanitarian obligations and sexual and gender-based violence against girls and women practiced in the private sphere. This research also contributes to the ongoing development of implementation theory in the area of highly contested global policy implementation.

Keywords: Chad, refugees, women's rights, gender, human rights, gender policy, development policy, gender roles, gender based violence, harmful traditional practices, policy implementation, refugee law

Topics: Armed Conflict, Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Refugee/IDP Camps, Gender, Women, Girls, Gender-Based Violence, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Rights, Human Rights, Women's Rights, Sexual Violence

Year: 2012

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