Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2023, 15:20 GMT

UNHCR's Commitments to Refugee Women

Publisher UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Publication Date 12 December 2001
Cite as UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR's Commitments to Refugee Women, 12 December 2001, available at: [accessed 18 May 2023]

(1) Meaningful participation
UNHCR will encourage meaningful and active participation of women in all
management and leadership committees of refugees in urban, rural and camp settings, including return areas. The overall standard to be achieved is 50 per cent representation by women in conditions where they can fully participate. This normally requires ongoing support to refugee, returnee and internally displaced women through human rights, negotiation and leadership skills training, and knowledge sharing on instruments.

(2) Individual registration and documentation
The individual registration of all refugee women is fundamental to ensure the exercise of their basic rights. It should provide them with relevant documentation to ensure their individual security, freedom of movement, capacity to register (and trace lost) children, access to essential services, support property claims and ensure political rights on return. All operations should ensure that registration and documentation activities meet individual needs in a non-discriminatory manner.

(3) Food and non-food items management and distribution
Access to and control over services and resources can limit refugee, internally displaced and returnee women's capacity to protect themselves and their community. Furthermore, when such situations arise, women and girls are exposed to sexual exploitation and abuse. All operations must ensure that women participate directly in the decision-making processes regarding the management and distribution of food and non-food items.

(4) Economic empowerment
Women's role in food security and livelihoods of the family needs to be carefully studied and considered in the assessment phase of the operations management cycle. The limitations on women's access to vocational and technical training and employment opportunities, as well as micro-credit schemes should be considered to design projects that respond to women's needs and capacities. Affirmative action targeting women is required to ensure an equitable impact of projects on women and men.

(5) Prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence
UNHCR's places prevention and response to sexual and gender-based violence within the wider framework of gender equality mainstreaming and empowerment. The Guidelines on Prevention and Response to Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV Guidelines) are also applicable to situations involving men and boys and due attention should be paid to all members of the population. Addressing sexual and gender-based violence requires a community-based approach and targeting work with men to address SGBV prevention and response. When preparing country programmes, staff must ensure that all UNHCR operations have put in place standard operating procedures for prevention and
response to SGBV.

Additionally UNHCR considers the provision of sanitary materials to all women and girls to be standard practice in all assistance program

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