On 24 April the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security, Women for Women International UK and Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) launching their report Displacement and Women's Economic Empowerment: Voices of Displaced Women in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Brita Fernandez Schmidt and Dr Zeynep N. Kaya introduced the report, and the reception included the first opportunity to see short films which call for international action and feature women in KRI talking about their experiences.
The report examines, and makes concrete recommendations for, women’s economic wellbeing and empowerment in the context of conflict-related displacement, focusing on livelihood needs and opportunities. It provides insights into how displacement has affected the position of women in the economic life of the family and community, and captures specific and contextualised aspects of women’s opportunities and barriers to empowerment from their perspective.
Although women face structural and cultural obstacles to their ability to engage in livelihood activities, the harsh conditions of conflict and displacement have forced families and communities to make space for women’s engagement in economic activities. The increase in the number of women engaged in livelihood activities among displaced communities in the KRI is an opportunity that can be built upon with careful national and international planning as long as women and women’s rights organisations are involved in the design of programmes and approaches.
Women’s increased role as income providers has led to some change in women’s and men’s perceptions of women’s economic roles. However, this change appears to be temporary rather than transformative – an outcome of urgent needs under exceptional circumstances – meaning that when people return home or life goes ‘back to normal’, perceptions of women’s economic position will return to what they were before.
The key contribution of this report is that it reflects the voices of displaced women in the KRI. The LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security conducted extensive, in-depth interviews with displaced women to understand their perspectives and perceptions of the opportunities and obstacles to their engagement in livelihood activities and how they define economic empowerment and empowerment more generally.
Read the Executive Summary I Read the full Report
The report launched at this event is the product of a partnership between the LSE Centre for Women, Peace and Security, Women for Women International UK and Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS).
The partners would like to thank everyone involved in this research, especially the internally displaced and refugee women and men who contributed their time and experiences. We are grateful for support from the Millby Foundation for enabling us to commission this research and share the findings.