Displaced Women and the Women Peace and Security Agenda
Dr. Anjila Al- Maamari

This article analyzes the difficulties of displacement from a gender-sensitive perspective. It further suggests a set of recommendations to improve the situation of displaced women.

The conflict in Yemen that started in March 2015 has led to the displacement of more than 3.6 million people (1).  During the year 2019, 400,000 Yemenis have been displaced because of the war, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has reported. Internally displaced people are people who “have been forced or forced to flee or leave their homes or places of habitual residence, especially as a result of avoiding the effects of armed conflict and situations of common violence and have not crossed the borders of an internationally recognized state"(5). During displacement, they may be subjected to verbal and psychological by the host society because of tension related to access to basic services such as water and firewood, or human violations. Some displaced people live in camps that lack the most necessary components (2). It is estimated that 76% of the displaced are women and children.   

Women have faced various difficulties during displacement. In addition to displacement, breakdown of protection mechanisms, high poverty and loss of the source of expenditure have significantly increased the vulnerability of women and girls to violence. Women-headed families, which are estimated to make up 10 to 30% of internally displaced families, are struggling to support their families in a difficult environment that lacks basic livelihoods opportunities, basic services for survival such as water and electricity, and the absence of official papers such as birth certificates, marriage contracts, which makes it difficult for women and children to register for various humanitarian assistance.  Some parents are forced to marry their young daughters as a protection mechanism against harassment and destitution. Child marriage rates have risen: in 2016, 52% of Yemeni girls married were younger than 18 years, compared to 66% in 2017.(3) 

  Research by Rohwerder (2017) suggests that: “prior to the conflict the practice of early marriage had reduced but the conflict has reversed this trend as a result of poverty and social insecurity. Displaced families felt to be more vulnerable to the practice and girls were more likely to be married off to adult men”.(4)

In addition, throughout Yemen, only half of the health facilities remained intact and 20 per cent of those provide reproductive health services, according to the UNFPA. (6)
Displaced women and girls are facing greater risks because of negative coping mechanisms adopted, and because of the lack of shelter and formal and informal protection mechanisms they are facing. 
According to focus group discussions conducted by Oxfam, CARE and GenCap, IDP women are ‘most vulnerable, as many have lost their property and access to livelihoods as a result of the conflict’.(7)

In December 2015, Oxfam reported that 1.3 million girls were out of school either because the schools were unfit to reopen, had been destroyed during conflict or were hosting IDPs or because the security situation did not allow it .(8) 

The protection pillar of resolution 1325 calls for the protection of displaced women, and for taking into account the special needs of women and girls when designing camps and centres.

Field visits to the camps of the displaced women show that their priorities have centered on how to access food, shelter and livelihoods, it seemed clear the extent of ignorance they have of legal and human rights issues, and the importance of their roles in the peacebuilding process, and these issues are not regarded a priority for them, the matter that reflects on the extent to which woman claim their rights and active participation in their society.

The issues that women face in displacement need to be included in peace plans discussed during peace negotiations. Recommendations for future peace plans include:

Recommendation 1    

Monitoring and tracking the changing needs of the residents of the camp and promoting  community participation. Camp management organisations must also promote appropriate  and adequate support by disseminating of protection in all sectoral interventions. In addition to that, developing the Camp management organization, governance and participation forums that enable displaced women and girls and displaced men and boys to get services and protection.

Recommendation 2

Displaced women should be supported to become economically empowed, which would lead to improved livelihoods for women.

Recommendation 3    

The focus should be on resolving conflicts arising from the tension between the needs for basic services of displaced persons with host communities.

Recommendation 4

Issuing legal identification documents (birth certificates, personal cards, marriage contracts) for camp residents.   



: (1) International Organization for Migration in Yemen (IOM) Rapid tracking of displacement movement 14 to 27 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://dtm.iom.int/reports/yemen-rapid-displacement-tracking-report-14-%E2%80%93-27july-2019  (2) Rohwerder, B. (2017). Conflict and gender dynamics in Yemen. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies. Retrieved from: https://gsdrc.org/publications/conflict-and-gender-dynamics-in-yemen/ (3) UNHCR. (2020). Yemenis displaced by conflict now face threats of looming famine. Retrieved from: https://www.unhcr.org/ar/news/briefing/2020/12/5fd35db54.htm%20l (4) Rohwerder, B. (2017). Conflict and gender dynamics in Yemen. Retrieved from: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/068-Conflict%20and%20Gender%20dynamics%20in%20Yemen.pdf (5) UNHCR (n.d.). Emergency handbook. Retrieved from: https://emergency.unhcr.org/entry/44826/idp-definition (6) UNFPA. (2021). 2021 UNFPA Humanitarian Response in Yemen [EN/AR]. Retrieved from: https://reliefweb.int/report/yemen/2021-unfpa-humanitarian-response-yemen-enar  (7) Gressmann, W. (2016). From The Ground Up: Gender And Conflict Analysis In Yemen. Oxfam. Retrieved from: https://policy-practice.oxfam.org/resources/from-the-ground-up-gender-and-conflict-analysis-in-yemen-620112/ (8) Oxfam (2015): Yemen. Women are key to finding political solution at peace talks. Retrieved from: https://www.oxfam.org/en/press-releases/yemen-women-are-key-finding-political-solution-peace-talks

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