INTERNATIONAL: Displaced Women's Rights Still Overlooked

Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Norwegian Refugee Council
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 
General Women, Peace and Security
Human Rights

Aid agencies and donors are still failing to take into account the relief and security needs of women displaced by disasters and conflicts. Time is ripe to set action behind the resolutions adopted by the international community.
That was the key message from the NRC Secretary General in the NIEW International Conference that was held in Malaysia recently. The conference was organised by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Institute for the Empowerment of Women and addressed the impact of conflict and displacement on the health and well-being of women.

In the last few years, there has been a positive trend in the international aid arena of a strong focus on strengthening women's rights. In the 10 years since Security Council Resolution 1325 was signed, more specific resolutions such as 1820, 1888 and 1889 have been adopted. However, although much is done on policy level, the problem remains to translate the policies into implementation to protect displaced women on the ground.

More than 43 million people are displaced in the world today, due to war and armed conflict. In addition, millions of people are displaced every year due to natural disasters. Over 75 per cent of them are women and children.

”The health and wellbeing of displaced women depend largely on whether their protection rights and needs are satisfied. These include the right to food, shelter, water, information, education and physical protection. Women's needs vary from culture to culture, crisis to crisis, and are most of the time different from those of displaced boys and men. Too often this difference is ignored. In the rush to provide assistance, we see displaced women becoming invisible and their rights overlooked,” said Rasmusson.

She highlighted four main issues that seriously challenge the situation for displaced women, based on NRC's own experiences from the field: Militarisation of protection activities, increasing displacement in urban settings, the male responsibility, and the mitigation of Gender Based Violence during and after a conflict.