02 November 2023

Gender dynamics in internal displacement

A person’s gender inevitably shapes their experience of internal displacement. It intersects with their age, ethnicity, disability, and other characteristics to affect the risks they face during displacement and their ability to access appropriate support. The conditions necessary to maintain life, livelihood, and dignity, as well as achieve lasting solutions to displacement vary for women, men, girls and boys, including people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity/expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

Gender dynamics in internal displacement

There are growing calls to incorporate a gender perspective into humanitarian and development action on displacement. Despite promising signs of progress, however, approaches to data collection and programming remain insufficient. Most data available on internally displaced people (IDPs) is not disaggregated by sex. Further breakdown by gender identity and sexual orientation is even harder to come by.

The gaps in disaggregated data contribute to blanket approaches to programming that tend to treat IDPs as a single homogenous group who experience displacement in the same way. Where gender differences are recognised, displaced women, girls and IDPs who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and other diverse groups (LGBTIQ+) are often categorised together under the umbrella term of “vulnerable groups”, overlooking their leadership, agency, and capacities.

This report is intended to improve understanding of gender inequalities linked with internal displacement and highlight ways forward to promote more inclusive and effective data collection, planning and responses. It begins by drawing from the latest primary data collected by IDMC and other organisations to explore the gendered risks and impacts of displacement.

It then showcases promising examples of gender-responsive action to prevent and address the phenomenon, and highlights women’s role as agents of change. The final section takes stock of data sources on the issue and discusses tools and initiatives to address gaps.