Gender Dimensions of Forced Displacement (GDFD) Research Program

Protection Capacity

Gender Dimensions of Forced Displacement (GDFD) Research Program


Internally displaced women and girls in Cabo Delgado.

The project in brief

Implemented by


  • UK aid from the United Kingdom's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
  • World Bank Group (WBG)
  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)


The country studies cover Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Jordan, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.

There are also several multi-country studies, covering a total of 17 countries examining intimate partner violence, child marriage and multidimensional poverty, which generate interesting comparative insights.


The Gender Dimensions of Forced Displacement (GDFD) Research Program is part of  the program on Building the Evidence on Forced Displacement research partnership which was launched in 2016. 

The first series of studies is concluded, and we would like the research to be expanded in the countries that are eligible through the International Development Association (IDA) Window for Host Communities and Refugees (WHR).  

Research findings are being disseminated and discussed in seminar series such as the Building the Evidence on Forced Displacement: From Research to Policy Making and as part of the World Bank Group’s yearlong Gender Equality and Development +10: Accelerate Equality initiative

Notes on Key Development Challenges Around Internal Displacement and Refugee Policies and Programs from a gender perspective have also been developed. An analysis is ongoing in preparation of policy dialogues with governments. Key messages for civil society and practitioners working on the front lines, as well as governments and workforce at multilateral and UN agencies, and global fora, like the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement and the Global Compact on Refugees, have been produced. 


While highlighting the importance of secondary data analysis to inform programming, the program conducted eight detailed country investigations and three multi-country papers covering 17 countries to explore how gender inequality compounds impacts of forced displacement in terms of multidimensional poverty, livelihoods, gender-based violence (GBV), and social norms. 

Displaced adolescent girls, young women and grassroot advocates should have a seat at the table from the design of the research programs until the presentation of the findings, while integrating intersectional and feminist lenses, avoiding extractive approaches to testimonies and moving away from adult centrism.

- Gianina Marquez Olivera, Co-founder of Quinta Ola (UNHCR Innovation Award Winner 2022) – Americas (Peru)

Project aims 

Data on gender dimensions of forced displacement are instrumental to feed into the policy dialogues and advocate for more robust and efficient GBV preventive and responsive policies and environments (e.g., stronger GBV-related services to refugees, IDPs, returnees, and stateless persons (including medical and psychosocial support), and investment in multi-sectoral programs that address harmful gender norms.).


  • Consider extending the research to locations where gender and forced displacement related policy dialogue and programming is being planned by the WBG or other development partners, for example in the context of the IDA 19 and 20 Window for Host Communities and Refugees.
  • Guide the World Bank’s new gender strategy and inform the upcoming World Development Report 2023. 
  • Provide strong practical application and inform programming across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. 
  • Strengthen the cooperation with women-led organizations, networks and groups, especially those led by displaced women and girls, and ensure local agency in GBV programming. Stateless, returnee, internally displaced and refugee women and girls should play an active role in designing and implementing research and key decision makers who can influence coordination and programming.    
  • Ensure that our localization agendas don’t recreate the same inequalities and obstacles for forcibly displaced women and girls and facilitate structural changes and continuously developing innovative ways to advance their inclusion and active (and safe) engagement. 

Resources used 


  • Strong interlinked partnership research programs. 
  • Engaged Senior Advisory Panel Members, including a Senior Community Based Protection Officer with gender equality expertise from UNHCR. 
  • Clear scope of the program to expand the global knowledge on gender dimensions of forced displacement by funding quality research and disseminating results for the use of practitioners and policy makers. 

Main activities of the Good Practice

  • Conduct and extend research.
  • Disseminate and discuss key findings with diverse stakeholders and strengthen partnerships, including with women-led organizations, groups and networks in displacement settings. 
  • Influence strategies and policy dialogues, as well as inform programming through in-depth gender analysis.

Video: The gender dimensions of forced displacement: New evidence to guide policy (CSW66 side-event)



Challenges and how they were overcome



  • The Gender Dimensions of Forced Displacement research program findings highlight some counter-intuitive results in particular settings, underscoring the importance of country-specific analysis. 
  • There is still a need for global push to collect better age, gender, and diversity disaggregated data to inform evidence-based policy making.  

How they were overcome

Strong and shared willingness of partners to keep addressing the challenges, while also using opportunities to improve the scope and impact of the GDFD research program. 

Results of the Good Practice 

The research program demonstrates novel and important insights that can be generated using existing datasets that are available for many countries.

  • Improvements in the coverage of forcibly displaced people in surveys, and in the coverage of topics.  
  • Better data available to: demonstrate gender inequality and its multi-dimensions and impacts, inform programming and advocate. 
  • Creating safe spaces for dialogue with decision-makers to inform policy reforms 
  • Data serves for advocacy to generate a positive impact for displaced women and girls, who, as agents of change, and together, we propose and implement solutions which respect interculturality 

How the project meets the GCR Objectives

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

Our good practice could contribute to make progress on Key Recommendation 11 from the HLOM:  "Providing more flexible, predictable and multi-year funding for refugee responses.", including through direct and public-private partnership modalities. We advocate for the sustained and flexible financial support for organizations, groups and networks led by forcibly displaced and stateless women and girls. 

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

Our research program guides policies to enhance diverse women’s and girls’ refugee self-reliance and has the potential to inform targeted investments for inclusive national policies and approaches, and to design solutions to increase their social and economic inclusion and equal access to livelihoods, health, and education through an intersectional lens. We advocate to draw on local-level knowledge and expertise in refugee-hosting areas to inform national development plans and ensure they are inclusive of refugee women, including when defining national and international priorities. 

Data to understand the multiple dimensions of gender-based violence on displaced LGBTIQ+ people remain a big gap. Research findings support our advocacy for innovative economic reforms in areas identified as priorities, such as the access to diverse, non-gendered livelihoods and the recognition of care roles. We are catalysts for transforming studies into implementation tools that serve the communities.

- Andrea Ayala, Co-founder of the Global Independent Refugee Women Leaders, member of UNHCR Interim Advisory Board and of the Gender Audit Team

Objective 4: Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity

Gender equality fosters conflict prevention. Our collaboration with political, humanitarian, development, peace, and financing actors contributes to improve conditions favourable to voluntary repatriation and reintegration. 


Video: Launch Event - Gender Dimensions of Forced Displacement

Next steps 


  • Strengthen GBV and gender equality in protection & development portfolios through improved and expanded joint analysis to inform policy dialogues on development responses, including project design (and follow up on the programmatic use of the findings and also expand to new countries, e.g., Mozambique).
  • Identify and map interlinkages between global processes (including as related to the Global Compact on Refugees) to improve the mainstreaming and targeting of gender dimensions of forced displacement.
  • Analysis of existing projects with development partners and learning exchanges.
  • Improving and updating UNHCR guidance and materials on inclusion in national systems/self-reliance and working with partners.
  • Document promising practices, including on engaging with organizations, groups and networks led by forcibly displaced and stateless women and girls. 


Further support required for the project to continue or scale up


  • The GDFD research findings and implications must be considered and addressed as cross-cutting protection issues by all colleagues, and especially those working on data, public health, livelihoods, economic empowerment, and education. 
  • Strengthening partnerships with diverse women-led organization, groups and networks is key to the success of the GCR. 
  • Strong common engagement to implement HLOM cross-cutting recommendations 6 on "facilitating more systematic, inclusive, and meaningful refugee participation" and 7 on "enhancing the data available to support effective action and investment in refugee situations" is also key. 
  • The GCR indicator report demonstrated that more international aid is needed to strengthen the self-reliance of refugees and host communities. And to enable self-reliance, we need to ensure that adequate protection frameworks are in place. Age, Gender and Diversity considerations need to be mainstreamed in all relevant data, programming, and GRF pledge areas