Analysis of Empowerment of Refugee Women in Camps and Settlements

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Ulrike Krause, PhD


This article analyzes the empowering impact that refugeeism can have on women, a largely neglected area of research. In the past, the academic discourse of refugees’ identity reveals a clear trend towards homogenization, objectification, and victimization. Refugee women are still seen as disempowered passive victims. Considering that most refugees are caused in patriarchal societies in the global south, this article presents the idea that forced displacement can break patriarchal patterns because refugees renegotiate and redefine gender relations while in camps and settlements which could lead to women’s empowerment. This argument is made after an extensive review of literature on refugee identity, differing camp and settlement structures, and the discourse about actions that can disempower or empower refugee women. In order to move beyond assumptions, this paper relies on concrete empirical research of national policy analyses and a field research case study of Rhino Camp settlement in Uganda. A review of this research will show how displacement can both challenge and reinforce traditional gender roles and will focus on the potential for empowering women in this context.

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Ulrike Krause, PhD, Center for Conflict Studies, University of Marburg

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Center for Conflict Studies, University of Marburg, Germany.