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Engendering Compensation: Making Refugee Women Count!

Prepared for the Expert and Advisory Services Fund International Development Research Centre

by Nahla Abdo

March 2000 - Ottawa

1. Introduction
Engendering the compensation process, the focus of this paper, is an attempt to reduce existing gender inequalities among Palestinian refugees and ensure a more visible role for Palestinian women in the compensation process. Engendering refugee compensation negotiations entails, among other things, the delineation of gender aspects of refugee conditions, experiences and expectations, which in turn can result in a more integrative and inclusive study of refugees. In seeking to provide a comprehensive and inclusive approach to dealing with various aspects of refugee problems whether at the academic (e.g., research or study) level or at the political level of regional or international negotiations, this paper will argue for the importance of integrating gender in all aspects of negotiations on refugee issues. The concept of gender must be treated as integral to any approach to refugees, as it penetrates and defines the lived experiences, expectations and aspirations of all refugee communities. Including gender as an integral element of the compensation process helps illuminate the impact gender inequalities have had on the structure and character of the community prior to its becoming refugees; it delineates the differential experiences of males and females during conflict, and the differential experiences they have had in refugee camps, both in Palestine and in the diaspora.

In seeking to establish a gender perspective as a fundamental element for an inclusive approach to discussing refugee compensation, this paper will examine three broad areas:

    - The significance of gender in comprehending Palestinian refugees, provided within the context of deconstructing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict;

    - Gender and compensation from an international perspective;

    - Engendering the compensation process of the Israeli/Palestinian negotiations. Specifically, this section engenders the modalities outlined within the "Report on the Workshop on the Compensation as Part of a Comprehensive Solution to the Palestinian Refugee Problem".

Before proceeding and in order to establish a framework for the relationship between gender and compensation, the concept of gender will be defined and consequently related to the context of Palestinian refugee compensation.

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