Refugee Women: Key to the Global Compact on Refugees Logo

Developed by Associate Professor Eileen Pittaway and Dr Linda Bartolomei, Graphics by Damayanthi Muthukumarage, Website by Anja Wendt

How to Use This Resource, and suggested Training Programs

This Resource Kit is designed to assist stakeholders such as Refugee-led Organisations, local and international NGOs, UN agencies and donors to make a realistic assessment of what is achievable in terms of ‘refugee-led and meaningful participation’ in each place in which they work.

It involves using checklists and worksheets to assess barriers and opportunities, in each of the key areas listed below, in order to assist stakeholders in designing context specific solutions to implement key gender commitments of the GCR. These include supporting gender equality, gender transformation, women’s participation, leadership, and to address sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).

The following resources have been developed or adapted to address the often-vexed messages about definition of key terms, and how to understand them in the wide range of refugee contexts in which we work. They are intended to be site/country specific.  They address many of the obstacles faced when supporting women’s work in unregistered and registered refugee led organisations.

The following questions have been identified as needing answers and analysis in each site and solutions identified with all key stakeholders.  (Click the highlighted text for more detail)

  1. What are the major structural issues which impact unregistered and registered refugee-led organisations?
  2. What are the major social barriers to women refugee-led work?
  3. What are the major barriers to gender equality?
  4. How can we implement an Age, Gender and Diversity approach?
  5. How does Sexual and gender-based violence impact on women’s potential participation?
  6. How do we ensure that the lived experience of diverse refugees is heard?
  7. How can we include refugee men in efforts to achieve gender equality and ensure their needs are also met?  
  8. What is meaningful participation and how can this be achieved?
  9. How can we establish effective partnerships, and build trust and respect?
  10. How do we address the power of privilege – “White”, Gender and Class privilege?
  11. How can we advance human rights-based development models of service provision which incorporate the key principles of community development?
  12. How can we incorporate an intersectional approach, including sustainability and succession planning, into Strategic Planning to achieve effective implementation of the GCR’s gender commitments.

More details about the various Tools in the kit

Refugee-led Artwork

1.  We first examine the potential of, and challenges to women refugee led work, with a focus on the key structural issues, the differences between registered and unregistered refugee led groups and what impact this has on their ability to function effectively and to receive funding.  In sites where refugee led organisation are allowed to register, many, but certainly not all of these barriers are addressed but it is still not easy being a minority group dependent on the good-will of others. 

2. In the context of these resources, we have defined Gender Equality as equal access to resources and opportunities, including economic participation and decision-making regardless of gender. It means respecting all people without discrimination, and addressing gender inequalities that limit a person’s ability to access their human rights   It does not require that girls and boys, or women and men, be the same, or that they be treated exactly alike.

5 - Gender Equality

3. Social issues also can cause major barriersMany women lack access and opportunity to attend education and training about human rights, gender equality, sexual and gender-based violence and other life skills.  They are also excluded from practical courses such as how to run organisations and projects.  Culture, socio-economic circumstances and literacy levels also can pose barriers to participation. These social issues must be addressed along with the structural issues.

4. The Age, Gender and Diversity or ‘AGD approach’ is a UNHCR AGD Policy that recognises people who are refugees, forcibly displaced and/or stateless are very diverse. They include people of all ages, genders, nationalities, religions, disability status, sexual orientation, as well as national, ethnic, religious, linguistic minorities and Indigenous peoples. It states that they must all be treated equally. This tool is designed to identify the different needs of the diverse groups living in each site, and work with them to identify their specific needs.

6 - AGD

5. In every site in which we have worked in this project and in 22 other countries over the 25 years, women have identified rape, gender-based violence and sexual harassment (SGBV) as THE major barrier to participation, and gender equality in all aspects of their lives. (Pittaway and Bartolomei 2023)[1].  It is essential that we identify exactly HOW SGBV impacts on women’s potential participation in each site and explore solutions with the women.

6. There is a welcome focus by policy makers and many service providers on ensuring that the lived experience of refugees is included in meetings and policy debates. We need to ensure that the lived experience of ALL refugees is heard and respected and take targeted steps to ensure that people of all genders, with diverse backgrounds and experiences are sought out and supported to contribute equally to the process. This can be challenging for a number of reasons, and we explore ways to achieve this.

7. This session addresses how to effectively include men in tackling gender inequality and ensure their needs are also met. While many needs are common, women and men, girls and boys and non-binary individuals have specific challenges, and they all should to be addressed. That is the aim of gender equality.

8 - Partnership

8. The notion of meaningful participation is often ill-defined and multi-layered. It involves ceding power from the dominant group of stakeholders, i.e. host and donor governments, and humanitarian aid providers at all levels, and sharing it with the refugee communities. Different models must be developed to adapt to local circumstances.

9. Genuine Partnership is an important aspect of participation. It entails recognizing what each group brings to the relationship, a willingness to share power and privilege, and working out together how best to use these resources. Mutual obligations, transparency and accountability must be explicit and adhered to by all parties.  The Tools explore ways of building trust, which is a critical element in the process.

10. This is probably the most confronting of all the Tools. One of the most difficult challenges in implementing these GCR commitments is for All stakeholders to acknowledge ‘white’, gender and ‘class’ privilege and how this is used or abused. It involves letting go of power, at a personal level, i.e. individual staff, organisationally, in policy and practise and by donors. In some cases it means using that privilege to support refugee groups.  It means examining our own biases and negative assumptions, which are so often based on privilege or lack of power. It has to be acknowledged at a local and an international level.

7 - Privilege
9 - Moving to Human Rights Community Development

11. In order to achieve these often aspirational goals, more progress is needed to shift the focus and approach of aid provision in refugee contexts from humanitarian to rights-based and inclusive development approaches, which incorporate the key principles of community development. In refugee contexts this is even more important because of the loss of legal rights and citizenship. We examine ways in which to make this shift. This includes building sustainable models in which leadership succession planning plays a key role.

12. In acknowledging the intersectionality of the concepts addressed in these resources, we have mentioned the cross-cutting themes whenever appropriate in each section. The final Tool, Strategic planning using an intersectional approach assists in the development of models which address the intersecting challenges. Unless these are identified in each site, implementing these goals will continue to be challenging. [2]

10 - Intersectionality

Training Program 

The Resource kit was developed based on requests from key stakeholders for an easy-to-use resource to enable stakeholders to make a realistic assessment of what is achievable in each refugee context in which they work. One size does not fit all but the same principles can be addressed in different ways in very diverse contexts to achieve satisfactory outcomes.

The training modules are designed to introduce each of the Tools, and suggestions about how to use them.  Each section will take about one hour to introduce (12 hours in all). In each section we have suggested how long we anticipate it would take to complete a full training on the material. Some of the Tools are very complex, such as those which require a thorough situational analysis, and will involve some fieldwork and research to apply in a real-life situation.

These materials are designed for use by experienced Trainers.  Each module contains:   

  1. Standard definitions of key terms used in the resource,
  2. Background reading and/or handout addressing challenges identified in implementing these,
  3. A Tool or checklist to use to identify locally appropriate definitions and potential solutions
  4. Exercises which can be used when working with community groups and service provider networks, to gain their insights. The final Tool brings together the various components of the exercises to assist in the development of the most appropriate model for specific sites.
  5. PowerPoint slides for trainers to use with participants
  6. Video clips are provided for some, but not all of the modules.

The aim of this programis to provide trainers/managers with hands-on experience of the various training modules, and to practice the techniques before using them in the field.

Trainers will need to dedicate time to reading the background materials, and familiarising themselves with the Tools, Exercises and PowerPoint Slides before presenting the modules.

The Program consists of 3 modules, of  3.5 hours each, which can be delivered either on three separate occasions, or in a block of 1.5 days.  If time is available, it is recommended that the sessions are doubled in time, (3 days of training) to enable participants to practise some of the exercises.  The materials have been divided into 3 distinct sections, which are:

Module  1

Minimum 3.5 hours – preferably 7 hours

Identifying Challenges to unregistered and registered Women Refugee Led Organisations, and developing local solutions.

Introduction to the Resource Kit – 30 minutes

Structural issues which impact on unregistered and registered organisations – 1 hour

Social barriers to women’s refugee led work – 1 hour

Addressing Gender Inequality – 1 hour

Module  2

Minimum 3.5 hours – preferably 7 hours

Implementing Age, Gender and Diversity, and addressing Sexual and Gender Based Violence

Using an Age, Gender and Diversity approach with a focus on the cross cutting theme of Sexual and Gender Based Violence – 1 hour and 30 minutes

Including the lived experience of ALL refugee groups women, men, LGBTQI+ etc  – 1 hour

Including refugee men in tackling gender inequality and ensuring their needs are also met – 1 hour

Module 3

Minimum 3.5 hours – preferably 7 hours (double times for each session)

Using the Three Ps – Power, Privilege and Participation, to inform Strategic Planning

Achieving meaningful participation and partnership – 1.5 hours

Addressing Power and Privilege – White, gender, class and ethnicity. – 1 hour

Strategic planning using an intersectional approach informed by post colonial theory – 1 hour.


If time is available, it would be useful to have a separate introductory section, – 1 hour, and a separate Strategic Planning session, 1 or 2 hours. hours.

Power point Slides and Notes are (will be soon) available for this Familiarisation Program

Additional, and complementary training in using the tools, in particular the Reciprocal Research training material, can be provided.  They will take an additional 1.5 days.

Introductory Materials

A short introduction to the Resource kit can be provided for a 30 minute, 1,  2 or 3 hour session.  The amount of interactive material used will depend on the time allocated. A Power Point presentation and short video are available for these presentation (Web Link) 

Contacts: Linda.bartolomei@unsw.edu.au, e.pittaway@unsw.edu.au

Final sections of web

Section 5. Tools and Exercises contains resources to support the implementation of the commitments in the Global Compact on Refugees. 


6. Additional Relevant Materials

(Some of the materials listed above are contained in these Packages)

  • A Training package and video developed with UNHCR which suggests ways in which to take Age, Gender and Diversity into consideration in all service provision, including addressing participation and SGBV? 
  • Reciprocal Research – An Action Research Training program designed to facilitate the active and meaningful participation of refugees in needs analysis and identification of solutions.
  • Community Engagement – A Training module to assist in undertaking genuine and respectful community dialogue
  • Others?

7. Material submitted by other practitioners –  A Purple Box  We will start it with some APNOR Material, eg the Research Guidelines

[1] Pittaway, E. Bartolomei,L. 2023, Only Rape! Human Rights and Gender Equality for Refugee Women: Palgrave Macmillan

[2] UNHCR Tip sheet https://www.unhcr.org/au/media/age-gender-and-diversity-tip-sheet-helping-ensure-agd-inclusive-pledges-and-good-practices-0