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Rhetoric to Reality: The Participation of Refugees in Gender-Based Violence Programs in Dadaab

Cronin-Webb, Morgan

The risk of gender-based violence (GBV) is heightened during displacement and it remains a pervasive issue in refugee camps worldwide. This study of the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya analyzes the sociocultural and contextual challenges that service providers (national and refugee staff) face in implementing GBV policies, including entrenched harmful traditional practices, the stigmatization of girls and women and the ostracization and violence perpetrated against those associated with ‘outsider’ organizations. The findings document tensions between the refugee community and International Non-Governmental Organizations ((I)NGOs) over what constitutes GBV and between the formal reporting routes (police and legal) and the traditional justice dispute mechanisms. These tensions highlight the importance of incorporating the participation of refugees into all stages of GBV programming, in line with a human rights-based approach and the humanitarian guidelines governing aid interventions. The incorporation of local voices into decision-making processes of agencies can play a crucial role in responding to refugees changing needs and experiences as was required during the escalation of voluntary repatriations and camp closure period. Furthermore, this study documents the strategies that NGOs have used to combat the sociocultural and contextual challenges in Dadaab including through dialogue, culturally appropriate services and activities, utilization of refugee community workers and coordination between organizations. NGOs have thus made efforts to implement community-based approaches and were able to adapt programming during the voluntary repatriation period. The study argues that there is a need to pay more attention on inclusive participation to ensure that marginalized groups and minority clans have a voice in all stages of policymaking. Finally, best practice from the field points to approaches that empower local voices and foster local ownership as being most effective and sustainable, able to align the formal and traditional systems and to combat GBV in the future.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Nettelfield, Lara J.
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2019
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