This project aims to support gender commitments in the Global Compact on Refugees in different refugee situations, including Thailand, working closely with local stakeholders.  It is funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).


Working in Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh, the project is being conducted in close partnership with local academics, refugee women and refugee services. To respond effectively to different refugee contexts, the project has taken a slightly different approach in each country, using the research team’s signature Reciprocal Research methodology

Our local partners will take forward the work of the project, to achieve the long-term objectives of increasing refugee women’s participation and ending sexual and gender-based violence

Partners and collaborators

Academic partner: Dr Sriprapha Petcharamesree, Ratawit Ouaprachanon and Mark Capaldi, Institute Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University.

Organisational partners and collaborators: Karen Women’sOrganisation (KWO), The Border Consortium (TBC), Karenni Womens national Organisation, Muslim Women’s Organisation, Muslim Women’s Association

Initial research consultations

Research consultations were held on the Thai/Myanmar border in August 2019, with 38 women leaders from 9 border camps and 2 male leaders, and with UNHCR and NGO staff. These were co-led by the UNSW team and Sriprapha Petcharamesree and Ratawit Ouaprachanon, Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies at Mahidol University, with the support of Karen Women’s Organisation (KWO) and The Border Consortium (TBC). 

The participants identified key issues affecting their communities, and suggested solutions, using the UNSW team’s Reciprocal Research methodology.  They presented their ideas to UNHCR and NGO staff in a final meeting. 

With the permission of the refugee women, short film segments were prepared and shown at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva. The key findings also informed an advocacy brochure distributed at the Forum. 

The report of these consultations is at this link.  

COVID impacts and next project stages:

The impact of COVID19 has led to some modifications to next project steps. However, the project was always designed to work in a range of contexts, and to provide remote support of local implementation, so the UNSW team sought approval from DFAT to adapt the project to respond to the current crisis and its impacts on refugee women and girls and their communities. This slightly revised approach provides an opportunity to support and document refugee women-led and local NGO supported gender sensitive responses in the context of a humanitarian emergency

Through this approach, four refugee women’s organisations are providing support to refugee and displaced women in 7 camps on the Thai-Burma border and in one Internal Displacement camp in Myanmar. The women’s groups identified the need for material support to vulnerable families to be combined with COVID and SGBV education and support. The projects are entirely refugee women-designed and run.  Funding has been provided under the auspices of the Border Consortium (TBC). The outcomes will be documented as part of the overall project. Additional virtual training on suicide prevention and psychosocial support was also developed and delivered by the UNSW team at the request of the refugee women’s groups.


Research consultations were held in Kuala Lumpur in August 2019, with 36 refugee women leaders from 12 countries, 5 refugee male leaders, and UNHCR and NGO representatives. The process was supported by APRRN, and local partners Dr Shanti Thambiah, Tenaganita, MSRI, Asylum Access Malaysia, and UNHCR. The outcomes, together with further training and roundtables with project partners and refugee women in February 2020, identified concrete local strategies, programs and planning to increase refugee women’s participation and to address sexual and gender-based violence. The local partners are working closely together and with UNHCR and refuge women leaders to implement these local actions, including actions to support refugee women during COVID restrictions.

Learn more

In each country, the project approach has been adapted to suit local needs and context. Given the huge population of refugees in Bangladesh, the research team proposed a multi-stage, multi-stakeholder approach to research consultations.  This involved training service providers (UN, INGOs NGOs CBOs) and refugee women and men leaders to conduct research consultations in multi-stakeholder teams. Altogether, 24 workshops and consultations were conducted between November 2019 and January 2020, involving 226 refugee women, 85 refugee men and 86 UN, INGO and NGO staff. Data analysis workshops in February 2020 with the research facilitators, synthesised and analysed the findings and proposed actions. A report launch and planning on next actions will take place in early 2021. 

Key Bangladesh partners include Centre for Peace and Justice, Brac University (CPJ), APRRN, UNHCR, numerous local and international NGOs, and refugee women and men community leaders. 

Learn more