AbstractsWomens Studies

Life for Women in a Refugee Camp in Malawi: Understanding Perceptions of Security and Insecurity

by Ashley Ramier

Institution: University of Ottawa
Year: 2016
Keywords: Female; Refugee; Security; Insecurity; Malawi; Dzaleka; Sex Work; Heating Resources
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2067635
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/34403


Feminist scholarship contributes to our understanding of the day-to-day experiences of female refugees especially as they relate to social and economic security. Traditional gender roles, the gender division of labour, systems of patriarchy, and sexual and gender based violence are contributing factors to the daily violence and insecurity that female refugees experience. This thesis employed unstructured interviews with 15 refugee women and 9 institutional representatives based in Malawi’s Dzaleka Refugee Camp as well as participant observation to examine perceptions of security within refugee camps as articulated by female refugees and by the institutional representatives working in Dzaleka camp. My findings underscore diverging perceptions between these two groups particularly along the themes of access to heating resources, prostitution and survival sex, boreholes, corruption, livelihoods, early and forced marriage, and reporting insecurity. Analysis of these themes indicates a gendered duality regarding the visibility of women refugees and their access to basic necessities, particularly heating resources. As such, refugee women have limited options to achieve their basic necessities and therefore may engage in negative survival strategies such as sex work. Furthermore, inadequate trust between refugees and refugee-based organizations as well as limited accountability mechanisms contributes to the insecurity that refugee women experience.