Assisting and protecting refugee women: A policy analysis

Barbara J. Kampa, Raphael Nawrotzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) has risen sharply over the last decade. This trend is the result of several causes such as the impact of climatic change, conflicts over diminishing resources, and religious and ethical disagreements. The largest and most vulnerable subgroup among refugees is women and their dependent children, and they are frequently subject to abuse and neglect. To address protection issues, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released the Policy on Refugee Women in 1990. The authors provide a comprehensive policy analysis, building on an exploration of the historical background and a presentation of policy goals. This exploration sets the stage for a discussion of the influence and viewpoints of major interest groups, such as donors, governments, and non-governmental organizations. The authors draw upon casestudies and a variety of literary resources to explore diversity issues, social justice concerns, and ethical interests. Furthermore, the authors assess the policy's implementation success by using the categories of positive outcomes (institutional change, new programming tools, improvement in refugee situation) and unintended outcomes (cultural and religious opposition, one-sidedness, negative conception). Finally, the authors present a comparison of the applications and implications of the 1990 UNHCR Policy from a global perspective, focusing primarily on the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada as exemplary countries. The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for policymakers and project managers to further improve protection and assistance programs to meet the needs of refugee women and girls worldwide.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-51
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Global comparison
  • Guidelines
  • Historical background
  • Intended outcomes
  • Policy on refugee women
  • Refugee women
  • Social justice


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