Skip to Main Navigation

Gender Dimensions of Forced Displacement (GDFD) Research Program


How does forced displacement affect women and men differently? And how should policy and program design and implementation reflect these differences.  The World Bank, with support from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has generated important new insights on these questions through a major program of research.

A series of papers has been published about the Gender Dimensions of Forced Displacement by researchers from a range of disciplines from inside and outside the World Bank, with strategic guidance from a Senior Advisory Panel. 

The research has examined a range of interrelated drivers and manifestations of gender inequality – including income and multi-dimensional poverty, livelihoods, gender norms and the risks of experiencing intimate partner violence and child marriage. The results show that gender-related constraints and barriers are often amplified in situations of forced displacement and consider how policies and programs can help to overcome obstacles and enable new opportunities to be realized. 

A major contribution of the research is to demonstrate novel and important insights that can be generated using existing datasets that are available for many countries – like the Demographic and Health Surveys – and new efforts, like the High Frequency Surveys.  This is not to minimize the importance of data constraints, which are large, but it is important to carefully examine what can be done with existing information, as well as call for improvements in the coverage of forcibly displaced people in surveys, and in the coverage of topics where data is needed to understand gender inequality. 

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 program will also develop notes both outlining and laying out the policies around refugees and IDPs, at the international and national levels, as well as livelihoods and gender-based violence. The notes are intended to be useful for civil society and practitioners working on the front lines, as well as governments and staff at multilateral and UN agencies, and global fora, like the High Level Panel on Internal Displacement and the Global Compact on Refugees.


As the number of people who are forcibly displaced reaches all-time highs, with the vast majority living in developing countries, the displacement challenge has moved to the top of the global development agenda.  This was recognized by the International Development Association (IDA)-- the World Bank’s fund for the poorest. Currently, the IDA19 Window for Host Communities and Refugees and host communities, dedicates $2.2 billion to help low-income countries hosting large numbers of refugees. 

During displacement, families are often separated, assets and livelihoods are lost or disrupted, and language barriers, legal constraints and discrimination may arise.  The nature of these impacts, and barriers and opportunities, may well differ between women and men.  But development policies and programs are often designed without taking these gendered factors and differences into account, and also often fail to monitor how outcomes and impacts vary between men and women, girls and boys.


The Gender Group at the World Bank has partnered with researchers at: Harvard Humanitarian Initiative; International Security and Development Center; Georgetown Institute of Women, Peace and Security; and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. 

Research papers cover the following:

Research Synthesis

Research Policy and Analysis

Poverty and Inequality

Gender-based Violence

Gender Norms

Livelihoods and Development


This work is part of the program Building the Evidence on Protracted Forced Displacement: A Multi-Stakeholder Partnership'. The program is funded by UK aid from the United Kingdom's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), and managed by the World Bank Group (WBG). It was established in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The scope of the program is to expand the global knowledge on forced displacement by funding quality research and disseminating results for the use of practitioners and policy makers. This work does not necessarily reflect the views of FCDO, the WBG or UNHCR.

Senior Advisory Panel Members:

Kristin Kim Bart

Global Development and Humanitarian Consultant

Elizabeth Dartnall

Executive Director, Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI)

Rebecca Eapen

Senior Community Based Protection Officer, UNHCR

Elizabeth Ferris

Research Professor, School of Foreign Service, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University

Patricia Justino

Senior Research Fellow, UNU-WIDER

Anne C. Richard

James R. Schlesinger Distinguished Professor, Miller Center, University of Virginia (January 2020-June 2021)

Daphne Jayasinghe

Director of Policy, Europe, International Rescue Committee

Philip Verwimp

Professor of Development Economics, ECARES,  Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, Université libre de Bruxelles

Cindy Huang

Former-Vice President of Strategic Outreach, Refugees International*

*Until February 2021