International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
Chapter 22: Refugees and asylum
In June 2014, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, announced that the global total of refugees and displaced persons had exceeded 50 million for the first time since the Second World War. This growing number of refugees and displaced persons can be linked to ongoing wars and conflicts, such as those in Syria or South Sudan for example, but wars are not the only reason that people are forced to migrate from their country and to seek refuge elsewhere. Men and women flee owing to various types of persecution, not all of which are fully recognized by the states and international organizations from which they may ask for protection. Gendered differences exist both in the causes of forced migration and in the experiences and needs of refugees and asylum seekers. But still too often these differences are not taken into consideration in national and international policies for protection of forced migrants. According to available data, women and girls represented 49 per cent of the global refugee population in 2013, a proportion which has remained more or less constant for the past decade (UNHCR, 2014). However, there is still a lack of sex-disaggregated data for many of the populations ‘of concern’ to the UNHCR. Even with regard to women coming to seek asylum in countries of the Global North, there are relatively few reliable sex-disaggregated statistics, particularly with reference to motives for asylum claims and results of decision-making and appeals.
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