The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees defines those eligible for asylum as persons unable to return to their home countries due to persecution from race, religion, political opinion, social group, or nationality. A significant omission in this definition is a provision for persecution based on gender. The failure to include gender-based persecution as criteria for refugee status renders a significant portion of displaced persons, notably women, unable to secure refugee status. To address this inequality, gender-based persecution as viable grounds for refugee status must be explored. One approach that can be used to assess the current environment concerning recognition of gender-based persecution is Transnational Feminist Theory (TFT), which calls for the dissolution of gender essentialism. Gender essentialism groups people by culture over individual gender, thus failing to differentiate between men and women despite the reality that women suffer from forms of persecution unique to their gender, as well as react to persecution in a different manner than men. The purpose of this paper is to analyze major documents relating to refugee status from the perspective of TFT and propose a strategy for making gender a key component in future international documentation.
|Keywords:||Transnational Feminist Theory, Gender-Based Persecution, Refugee Status, Gender Essentialism, Cultural Essentialism|
University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA
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