A gender perspective on internal displacement


Knowledge of gender inequalities in internal displacement is limited, yet indispensable to propose tailored solutions for internally displaced men, women, boys, girls and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ). This research highlights their different experiences and needs, and calls for more data and analysis on gender and internal displacement.

Internal displacement impacts the lives of all affected people, yet men, boys, women, girls and people from sexual minority groups suffer uneven repercussions. Internal displacement generally amplifies pre-existing vulnerabilities and inequalities. As women across the world are, on average, economically, legally, politically and socially less empowered than men, internally displaced women are twice disadvantaged. They often suffer greater challenges in the labour market of their host community than displaced men, as seen in Nigeria. Displaced women and girls are also at higher risk of sexual and gender-based violence, and girls are less likely than boys to continue their education in displacement, as seen in Ethiopia. The difficulties faced by displaced women and girls can reinforce each other in a vicious circle of lasting vulnerability, if their specific needs are not addressed.

Men and boys also face particular challenges in internal displacement, such as a higher risk of forced recruitment by armed groups or criminal gangs. In many societies, they are considered as the main bread winners in their families and can be compelled to engage in dangerous income-generating activities. While displaced girls can be, in some contexts, forced into early marriage, displaced boys are more often forced into child labour than their non-displaced peers.

In all regions of the world, people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex or queer (LGBTIQ) face specific challenges and suffer from formal or informal discrimination. The disruption to social life that results from internal displacement is particularly harmful for people from sexual minorities, as they often rely heavily on community for support, information and access to livelihoods or housing. Added to the loss of home and livelihood, it can push them into severe deprivation and vulnerability to abuse and violence.

Research on gender inequalities in internal displacement remains limited, and more data on IDPs’ needs should be disaggregated by sex and, when possible, gender. IDMC endeavours to highlight gender specificities in different displacement situations and calls for more inclusive data collection and analysis to inform better support for all displaced people.