In 2019, 79.5 million people worldwide were forced to flee their homes. Women, girls and LGBTIQ* persons are particularly affected by gender-specific reasons for forcible displacement, alongside (or in conjunction with) reasons of violent conflict, human rights violations and persecution.

Gender-specific causes of displacement include sexualised violence, domestic violence/intimate partner violence and harmful practices such as widow-burning and female genital mutilation.

Social role attribution based on gender in combination with other factors such as age, class, disability, origin, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity influence how displacement is experienced, how integration into a new social context unfolds and how successful reintegration in the home country is.

Pos­sible ef­fects of flight & mi­gra­tion:

Wo­men and girls are af­fected by struc­tural gender in­equal­it­ies and dis­crim­in­at­ory norms and ste­reo­types and of­ten ex­per­i­ence high levels of gender-based vi­ol­ence.

  • Crises, displacement and expulsion often increase intersectional discrimination and can increase the risk of gender-specific violence.
  • The impact on gender roles is however also highly contextual. For example, displacement may help women to become more integrated into the labour market and thus gain independence and recognition.
  • For other women, their gender or status may make economic activity difficult or expose them to risks and hostility. x

Gender-spe­cific risks and scope for ac­tion

In addition to gender-specific risks and vulnerabilities, displacement can therefore also open up new scope for action. Displacement contexts provide opportunities to challenge traditional role models and renegotiate gender relations. However, such opportunities also generally involve conflict and can be associated with feelings of loss of status and power, especially for men. Traumatic experiences are also often involved, thereby increasing gender-specific violence.


Info: To strengthen gender equality requires corresponding normative and social changes that enable women to lead self-determined lives as economic, political and social actors and to participate in social development and decision-making processes. In displacement contexts, it is crucial that planning and decision-making processes in refugee accommodation are also gender-equitable and inclusive.


  1. Source: ODI (2019) Gender in Displacement. The State of Play