Women and the 1951 Refugee Convention: Fifty Years of Seeking Visibility

Nahla Valji


The refugee regime, built on the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, has long excluded women from the international right to protection from persecution. The gender-blind parameters of the Convention have been exacerbated by the same qualities in the international legal system of which it is a part; state practices toward asylum-seekers; and the dichotomous construction of the refugee regime as a whole, which has produced and reproduced victimizing identities of refugee women. Advances today, such as the adoption of gender guidelines in a number of states, have been more symbolic in effect than transforming. New policy paths need to be evaluated to ensure that the next half-century of refugee protection does not duplicate the inequalities of the past.

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