Fletcher in the News

Data ‘Vital’ for Helping Women Refugees: Professor Mazurana Weighs In


Associate Research Professor at The Fletcher School Dyan Mazurana

Syria’s refugee women are the main support for over a quarter of the 145,000 families now displaced across the Middle East, according to a report published by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) last week (8 July). [1] ‘Woman Alone – the fight for survival for Syria’s refugee women’ draws on interviews with women in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon who, forced into exile and separated from their traditional support networks, have taken on new responsibilities as primary breadwinners and carers. [2]

The report calls for better humanitarian responses to these women’s needs for security, health, employment, and their children’s wellbeing. And it says that data must underpin such a response.

Dyan Mazurana, a research director at the Feinstein International Center [and associate research professor at The Fletcher School] at Tufts University, United States, tells me that poor data on refugees is “a serious problem” —  and data that is ‘disaggregated’ so it’s specific for gender and age will be vital for tailoring humanitarian assistance to women’s needs.

Among communities displaced or affected by conflict, “female-headed households look really different to male-headed households … and tend to have fewer assets, less wealth, and less access to basic services like health, education and water”, she says. 

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