This year marks the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The “Guiding Principles” are not legally binding but serve as an instrument that states, grassroots organisations and individuals use to inform the human rights that internally displaced people are entitled to, as well as the humanitarian laws that are relevant from legally binding conventions that their states have signed and ratified.
Internally displaced persons are defined as “persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalised violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognised State border.” (Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, Introduction, paragraph 2).
According to the latest global study done by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre in 2011, there is an estimated 26.4 million people that are internally displaced. However, what this number does not reveal is the extent to which women and children are the overwhelming victims of internal displacement. Why? It is estimated that about 80 percent of displaced populations consist of women and girls. Natural disasters and armed conflict usually occur in rural, low income, institutionally abandoned and hard to reach communities. These communities very often are comprised of women that work in a local and informal economy, and are single head of households (due to several factors, including forced disappearances, homicides, and/or male migration to other communities or countries for economic and/or safety reasons). For these and other reasons, internal displacement continues to disproportionately result in women becoming displaced, followed by gender-based violence that more than usually occurs in times of displacement. via – Al Jazeera English.