Gender and Durable Solutions in Post-Crisis Settings

Switzerland - On International Women’s Day 2017, IOM celebrates and honours migrant women and girls in the changing world of work, writes Pauline Mukanza.

The Gender Coordination Unit sat down with Ginette Kidd, Policy Officer in IOM’s Transition and Recovery Division within the Department of Operations and Emergencies, to gain insight into how gender equality and women’s rights fit within the work of durable solutions in post-crisis settings.

Tell us a little about what inspires you in your work?

“My focus is on solutions to displacement and for the past year and a half we have been working on developing a framework: ‘The Progressive Resolution of Displacement Situations.’ Essentially, we analysed displacement and the challenges to durable solutions and developed our own approach. IOM is broader and more inclusive in its approach to solutions, so the Framework looks at refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as other migrants and mobile populations and communities who may also be affected by crises and displacement. “

The Framework highlights the importance of inclusive interventions that consider age, gender and diversity, for example in relation to labour market integration and how mobility flows to urban centres can play a role in enabling a transition away from crisis. “We recognise people themselves as active agents in their own recovery; the resilience of people is quite inspirational.”

International Women’s Day was first marked in 1911 – that is over 100 years ago. Why do you think it is still relevant today?

“Well it originally came from the labour movement, and unfortunately the conversations on gender inequalities are often just as relevant today as they were 100 years ago. In the past, I have marked this day by engaging in activities related to projects which either directly target women or actively promote women’s participation.

“When asking women what economic activities they would like to engage in, I am never sure if women choose these economic activities because this is what they want to do or whether they suggest activities that they think men will accept. Or perhaps women simply do not know what other opportunities are out there? So I am never sure how much of their answer is their own awareness or their own choice or what is already structured by the environment they are in, based on gendered stereotypes. In any case, we need to be culturally sensitive when we engage with communities, and understand the gender dynamics.”

This year’s UN theme for International Women’s Day is “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50:50 by 2030”. Why do you think addressing women’s economic empowerment is important?

“I think it is about enabling equitable access to livelihoods and employment opportunities for women. To enable women to have access to employment, for example, we need to consider their other responsibilities. We may need to allow for childcare or other support services;, this is important so as not to burden women either. Women already make enormous contributions to economies, although this is often unpaid and unrecognised.”

Ginette raises a very important element of gender equality - to recognize people’s differences and with that allow for equal opportunities and rights for all. 

Can you share with us your personal ‘aha moment’ of when you realized that gender equality and women’s rights are an essential component to the work that you do?

“There is a case from my time in Afghanistan that comes to mind. We worked closely with communities to identify and respond to their priorities. It was difficult to reach out to women, although we knew it was important to understand what their needs were. In one village, the men prioritised a well that was closer to the village to save time and keep women safe. When we asked the women about the well they told us that they did not want the well to be closer to the village. Why? Because collecting water from the well was their opportunity to socially engage with each other.”

“The social engagement was important to these women in this Afghan village. This case demonstrates the importance of taking the time to really listen to men and to women as their priorities may not be the same, for reasons which are not necessarily obvious to an outsider.”

Ginette explains that it may well take a longer time to capture the gender dimensions of any given situation, but there is growing recognition of the importance of this investment.


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