Representing Refugee Women: Gender and Work in Three Kenyan Camps


  • Jennifer Hyndman Arizona State University



Kenya, Somali refugees, refugee women, refugee camp, gender, space, labour, local capacity, relief strategies


Representations of refugee women as "poor," vulnerable," and "helpless" are often caricatures inattentive to the innovations and survival strategies they employ. Combined with the relatively few images and impressions of refugee women’s experiences available, women relief workers, and scholars have limited understanding of their worlds across time and space. This articles aims to 1) discuss the politics, power relations and problems of representing refugee women; 2) illustrate selected daily routines, concerns and income learning strategies of Somali refugee women in Kenya; and 3) argue that the “local capacity” or indigenous skills of this group have not been fully recognized. Astute humanitarian policy and practice should not only promote “building local capacity” – a term often heard in relief circles today - but it should identify, mobilize and support the kinds of local capacity identified in the Kenyan camps of Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley.


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How to Cite

Hyndman, J. (1998). Representing Refugee Women: Gender and Work in Three Kenyan Camps. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 17(1), 10–15.

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