Making Refugee Women Count!
Prepared for the Expert and Advisory Services
Fund International Development Research Centre
by Nahla Abdo
March 2000 - Ottawa
3. Why Do We Need a Gender Perspective in Compensation?
A gender approach in research and policy decision-making
on refugees is needed in order to unmask the differential
experiences of women and men, the potentially different
effects of policies, programs and legislation on women
and men. We need gender-based analysis in order to
assess the experiences of women’s and men’s
different social realities, life expectations and
economic circumstances, and to ensure the integration
of these differences when accounting for compensation.
Gender-based analysis must be seen as a tool for understanding
social processes and for responding with informed
and equitable options to the group targeted for compensation.
To achieve this, a strategy of mainstreaming gender
must be adopted with the aim of integrating gender
equality concerns into the analyses and formulation
of all policies, programs and projects designed for
compensating refugees. Initiatives must be taken to
enable women as well as men to formulate and express
their views and participate in decision-making processes.
Since the 1975 launching of the UN Decade for Women
in Mexico, and the UN Charter calling for the elimination
of all forms of discrimination, most countries have
made special efforts to prohibit discrimination on
the basis of sex, and to promote gender equality.
In fact, gender-based analysis has moved from the
realm of academia or feminist intellectual exercise
and entered into the actual political life of governments
and institutions world-wide. Gender-based analysis,
called for by the 1995 Beijing Platform of Action
and the Commonwealth Plan of Action on Gender and
Development, has been officially adopted by many countries,
including Canada. Various governments have taken practical
steps to include gender-based analysis at the decision-making
levels in formulating their national and international
policies. For instance, the Ministry of Women’s
Affairs in New Zealand has declared that:
Social impact analysis, including gender analysis
is not just an add-on, to be considered after costs
and benefits have been assessed, but an integral part
of good policy analysis. (Emphasis added).
In Canada, a cabinet approved policy requiring federal
departments and agencies to undertake gender-based
analysis within the development of future policies
and legislation was formulated. Specifically, in its
Federal Plan for Gender Equality (1995), the Government
of Canada committed itself "to ensuring that
all future legislation and policies include, where
appropriate, an analysis of the potential for different
impacts on women and men".
A gender approach/perspective must be seen as a holistic
approach that guides the whole process of dealing
with any social phenomenon, including refugees and
compensation. A gender approach should be used as
a guide to the whole process of solving the refugee
problem. As Elizabeth Carrière has observed,
Gender analysis is focused not just on outcomes,
but on the concepts, arguments and language used to
justify policy. How needs are interpreted and discussed
is intrinsic to policy development... Gender analysis
should focus on whether the policy challenges or reinforces
existing power structures based on gender.
To reiterate, for an inclusive approach to negotiations
on refugee compensation, concerned parties must operate
on the principle that gender-based analysis should
be a common thread woven from beginning to end throughout
the entire policy process, and not merely an additional
heading/section in briefing notes. To do so, we shall
first contextualize compensation and examine the implications
of gender deficiency to the overall discussion/research
on Palestinian refugees.
For an inclusive approach to negotiations on refugee
compensation, concerned parties must operate on the
principle that gender-based analysis should be a common
thread woven from beginning to end throughout the
entire policy process.