On my trip to Afghanistan about two years ago I remember crossing a barren park, with one swing set. In the blazing heat of the summer, I remember looking back and witnessing a line of women, but more specifically widows, waiting for basic food rations distributed at what looked like a UN tent. Each woman was given two containers of cooking oil and a bag of rice. Before thinking if that was enough food to last them a week, I thought about how they were going to carry these supplies to home. From what I could tell all these women either came by foot or by taxi and they did not have men to accompany them; a norm that developed out of the many years of war. This description that I am giving exemplifies the effects of war and poverty on women.
- Credits from occhiogrosso-math.wikispaces.com/Refugee
Put in groups in my Feminism Health and New Media class, each group was given a picture where we were to examine any sign of power relations from the scene. My group was given a picture of an Afghan Refugee camp in Peshawar and all we could see were endless tents and a clear blue sky and men. Where were the women in these refugee camps? As analyzed by my group and Professor Morgane Richardson, these women were inside the tents and built an indoor community for themselves; fearing sexual assault and also taking care of the elderly and vulnerable. This is the gendered experience of displaced women in refugee camps.
Using “gender as a lens to uncover hidden power relations,” as stated by Charli Carpenter, I also analyzed the experiences of women in a Syrian refugee camp shown on the news. The men who were most often approached by the news crew were raising the issue of political instability in the country and gave their opinions about the current events while the one woman who was interviewed talked about the health disparities in these refugee camps. She raised important points on the distance of health clinics from the refugee camp as well as the many people suffering from diarrhea and vomiting. Could these differences in concerns and responses to their experiences as refugees reflect their gendered perspectives?