Cover Image
close this bookHandbook for Emergencies - Second Edition (UNHCR, 1999, 414 p.)
close this folder13. Commodity Distribution
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentWhen to start distribution
View the documentChoosing a Commodity Distribution System
View the documentComponents of Distribution Systems
View the documentThe Role of Refugee Women
View the documentMonitoring
View the documentKey References

The Role of Refugee Women

UNHCR Policy

19. UNHCR's policy is to ensure the maximum possible appropriate involvement of refugee women in all aspects of distribution. Determining the nature of this involvement requires consultation with refugee women and men and a careful evaluation of the totality of the needs and responsibilities of refugee women and their families. Failure to take these considerations into proper account can have negative implications that go well beyond the distribution system itself.

20. In the great majority of refugee communities, the objective of fair distribution will be best served by having an appropriate balance of men and women. However, it is normally women, and in particular single female heads of household, who are either under-represented or excluded.

Areas of Women's Involvement

21. There are three areas where refugee women can be involved:

In the decision-making processes and monitoring;

In the distribution itself (women supervise and/or hand out the commodities); and,

In collecting the commodities (where they are distributed to women not men).

22. Women must be directly involved in decision-making and monitoring, including being involved in planning the system and determining their own participation in its implementation. Women should be members of the commodity distribution or food committees.

23. Women should choose representatives who will be involved in the distribution itself. The extent and nature of this participation will depend on factors specific to that situation.

24. If women themselves feel that the most effective way to ensure that they receive their fair share and to retain control of its use thereafter, is by actually collecting, or at least being present at the distribution of food and non-food items for their household (whether or not they are its head), this should be ensured.