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Gender, Justice and Security Hub

The Project GCRF HUB – Gender, Justice and Security is a 5-year programme funded by UKRI, aiming to deliver innovative interdisciplinary research on the challenge of achieving gender justice and inclusive security in conflict-affected societies.

The hub is a multi-partner research network coordinated by LSE and working with local and global civil society, practitioners, governments and international organisations to advance gender, justice and inclusive peace.

By bringing researchers from multiple disciplines and practices together, the Hub seeks to advance the delivery of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on gender equality; SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions; and the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda by developing an evidence-base around gender justice and inclusive security in conflict-affected societies

  • About the Hub

Conflict and gender-based violence have devastating, long-term consequences on individuals, families and communities. They also severely hamper the successful delivery of development goals internationally. Through the creation of new knowledge, research methods and advocacy networks the Hub will amplify the voices of women and marginalised groups and motivate reforms that effect local and global policy change.

The Hub’s research comprises of 32 projects under six themes:

  1. Transformation and Empowerment
  2. Livelihood, Land and Rights
  3. Migration and Displacement
  4. Masculinity and Sexuality
  5. Law and Policy Frameworks
  6. Methodological Innovation

And two cross-cutting streams:

  1. Law & Policy Frameworks
  2. Methodological Innovation

And across seven focus countries

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Colombia
  3. Kurdistan - Region of Iraq
  4. Lebanon
  5. Sierra Leone
  6. Sri Lanka
  7. Uganda.

While each is distinctive in its experiences and timelines of conflict, the cases are broadly geographically representative and are all significantly conflict affected.

The research approach recognises the variety of gender insecurities and injustices and is motivated by a commitment to
the development goals and progress towards gender justice and a sustainable peace.

  • Middlesex University as a partner

Middlesex University recognises the significance of innovative research to accelerate progress towards Gender Justice and Sustainable Development Goals, is partaking in two major streams of Migration and Displacement and Transformation and Empowerment with bringing four important projects in context of seven important countries in Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kurdistan - Region of Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon.

  • Migration and Displacement stream

The Migration and Displacement stream is organised around two premises: first, both conflict-induced displacement (internal and international) and migration in the post-conflict state are highly gendered; and second, the restructuring of the post-conflict state may give rise to competing tensions, including the creation of new opportunities and the exacerbation of ethnic, religious and gender-based divisions which deepen vulnerabilities.

For example, women and children are over represented in refugee populations and in many conflict-affected societies, women outnumber men as labour migrants, with child and adolescent girl migrants also increasingly present. Evidence from Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) suggests that women’s migration is particularly affected by socially discriminatory institutions. Gender discriminatory citizenship policies may also have an accrued impact on women and children due to displacement

The stream is Co-Directed by Eleonore Kofman, Professor of Gender, Migration and Citizenship and Co-director of the Social Policy Research Centre at Middlesex University and Amirthalingam Kopapillai, Professor of Economics, University of Colombo. Each project is coordinated by two Co-Investigators.

The projects

The projects address a number of intractable challenges affecting migration, displacement and return which respond to the pursuit of gender justice. Though its increasingly recognised that women and girls form a growing proportion of those who are displaced internally and internationally from conflict-affected areas, their needs and vulnerabilities are often not considered. Their return on their own or with families requires an acknowledgement of the complex and sometimes difficult reintegrating into communities and the development of new initiatives to help them utilise any economic resources, new cultural resources and know how they have brought with them.

The projects will inform policy responses to SDG 5 gender equality and women and girls’ empowerment; SDG16 on peaceful, inclusive societies and access to justice for all; as well as SDG 8 on growth and decent work; SDG10 on reducing inequalities; SDG 10.7 on orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people.

Through three comparative studies across selected countries in the Middle East and South Asia, the research addresses the gendered aspects of forced displacement; the gendered dynamics of international labour migration; and return, reintegration and socio-political restructuring in the wake of international, inter-regional and intra-state displacements and post conflict.

Project 1: Gender and Forced Displacement


Brad Blitz, Professor of International Politics and Policy, Institute of Education, University College London, UK

Amirthalingam Kopapillai, Professor of Economics, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

Countries Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Lebanon 


The research explores comparatively the nature of gendered migration and displacement (internal and international) for adults, adolescents and children.

The project seeks to understand and measure how gender inequalities are affected by forced displacement in Afghanistan, Kurdistan - Region of Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Turkey, and to examine how these inequalities might be addressed in policies of international protection and assistance  in settlement in Sri Lanka so as to facilitate the empowerment and acquisition of skills of displaced girls and women.

Based on field research, the project will produce academic publications and a training manual for researchers identifying relevant resources.

Preliminary findings*: Gendered experiences arising from displacements in Jaffna, Sri Lanka

  • Project 2: Gendered Dynamics of Labour Migration


    Professor Eleonore Kofman, Professor of Gender, Migration and Citizenship, Middlesex University, UK

    Dr. Ezgi Tuncer, Kadir Has University, Turkey


    Kurdistan - Region of Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Turkey


    The research seeks to contribute to a gender-sensitive understanding of the interaction between economic and socio-cultural drivers of labour migrations in different cities in Kurdistan - Region of Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey. The project will also seek to achieve a better understanding of how migrant women use urban spaces.

    Based on stakeholder consultation and fieldwork interviews with migrant women, the project will produce academic publications and policy papers along with stakeholder workshops and training for researchers engaged with gendered labour migration and urban change.

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  • Project 3: Return, Reintegration and Political Restructuring


    Dr. Janroj Yilmaz Keles, Senior Research Fellow, Middlesex University, UK

    Dr. Muslih Irwani, Executive Director, Lebanese French University, Erbil, Iraq


    Kurdistan - Region of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka


    This research project explores and analyses the gender experiences of returnees (forced and voluntary) and changes in families and communities in conflicted and/or post-conflict societies in Afghanistan, Kurdistan - Region of Iraq, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

    It reviews return policies of the countries under study to understand the possibilities, challenges and obstacles for returnees in the process of participating in re-construction in Afghanistan, India, Kurdistan - Region of Iraq, Pakistan and Sri Lanka through their economic, social and cultural capital.

    Based on fieldwork and narrative interviews, the project will produce an academic publication, hold stakeholder workshops in Pakistan and Kurdistan - Region of Iraq and curate an exhibition of creative works from returnees.

  • Transformation and Empowerment steam

The Transformation and Empowerment stream will create significant beneficial impacts for conflict-affected populations and civil society groups in the core countries. However, policies, transformation of societies, empowering populations and transition towards justice reform remains poorly aligned with  development policies.

The streams are co-directed by Fionnuala Ni Aolain (U. Ulster) and Angelika Rettberg (U. los Andes)

Project 4: Culture and Conflict


Dr. Neelam Raina, Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries, Middlesex University, UK

Dr. Zahra Hussain- Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Middlesex University, UK

Fatima Hussain, Co-Director, Laajverd, Pakistan


Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka


This project takes an anthropological approach to understanding the value and relevance of culture specific knowledge and skills to peace building and reconstruction from the perspective of women.

By exploring the visual and material cultures of regions and the shifts caused therein by the conflicts, we aim to build a deeper understanding of the value of cultural practices in the reconstruction of a conflict zone. It will use a cultural mapping methodology (aural-visual) to explore how communities  of women, across different conflict contexts rely on coded and tacit knowledge to rebuild their lives.

This knowledge and its related skills are often situated and specific to the community. However, this knowledge is key to understanding the dynamics of conflict and its impact on women. Larger numbers of communities than ever before are on the move and displaced from their homes, however they carry  their culture with them often in the shape of visual and material belongings, language and narratives.

This culture is essential in defining not just their identity and its related politics, but has implications for the futures they aspire. This project aims to understand these cultures to explore their potential as the starting point for discussions about identity and ambitions of peace and development.

Visit our Craft Portfolio website to see how the Culture and Conflict Team explores and documents the practices of craft across the region of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Explore their work in more detail on the official Culture and Conflict website

Culture and Conflict workshop

The Culture and Conflict project is conducting Field Methods Workshop Part 2 in Pakistan on the 9 to 10 September 2020, with participation from Kabul, Kandahar, Islamabad, Swat, Gilgit, Upper Chitral, Peshawar and Rawalpindi.

This workshop will train participants in the methods and strategies of carrying out ethnographic research on crafts and creative practice in post-conflict zones.

We successfully completed the first training workshop in Field Methods with our partners in Sri Lanka in January 2020.

Photo credit: Saad Sarfaraz, Laajverd

  • Our academics and partners

  • Our international partners

    • Association of War-Affected Women (AWAW) (Sri Lanka)

      AWAW was established in 2000 to bring war-affected women across conflict lines together to work towards peace. They work on women’s advancement, human rights, democracy and conflict transformation.

      Their vision is for a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka where all its peoples are living with dignity enjoying equal rights. Their mission is to work towards strengthening democracy, women’s advancement and equal participation in order to achieve sustainable development and permanent peace in Sri Lanka.

      Objectives of AWAW:

      1. Achieve sustainable peace in Sri Lanka through socio-economic development with the active participation of war-affected women
      2. Women’s advancement, empowerment, development and participation.

      AWAW has special status with UN ECOSOC.

      Visit their Facebook page

      Visit their website

    • Bazani Charity Foundation (Iraq)

      Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF) is a non-governmental, non-political and non-profit organisation founded in 2005 in Erbil (capital city of the Kurdistan - Region of Iraq) but they have operated outside Iraqi borders in areas such as in Turkey, Syria, Greece and Serbia.

      The BCF is named after the legendary Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani (1903 -1979) and their working philosophy of the foundation is based on a statement by Barzani which says, “It is an honour to serve one’s own people.” Therefore, people and humanity make the centre for the BCF’s humanitarian work. Where there is a need for humanitarian assistance, the BCF considers that it is its own responsibility to help.

      The BCF is registered as an NGO both in Iraq and with Kurdistan Regional Governments as well as in the United States. The increasing activities of the foundation in the area of humanitarian response to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees inside and outside KRI has given great credibility to the BCF.

      The BCF has  The Foundation relies on its sponsors and partners which are local and international companies and organisations in conducting its humanitarian projects.The BCF places enormous importance on the sectors of education, health, camp management, livelihood, food, shelter and water. The foundation also runs projects for orphans and people with disabilities.

      The BCF was granted a Consultative Status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in April 2016.

    • Laajverd (Pakistan)

      Laajverd is an initiative of young people focusing on promoting a culture of peace in Pakistan, through the use of art and culture.

      Since its beginning in 2007, this student-led initiative has achieved a great deal with regard to its key areas of culture and conflict/peace as demonstrated by their projects: in their experiments with communication and designed interactions; in their geographical, participatory and audience diversity; and in their staunch refusal to buckle to convention.

      The organisation has also initiated media programmes for raising awareness on a range of social issues in Pakistan.

      Visit their website

    • Legal Aid for the Victims of Rape and Sexual Harassment in Custody (Turkey)

      Legal Aid Office for the Victims of Rape and Sexual Harassment in Custody is a non-governmental, non-political and non-profit organisation which was founded by Eren Keskin and German Lawyer Jutta Hermans in 1997 in Istanbul, Turkey.

      The Office provides free legal support to women victims/survivors including displaced and refugee women, sex workers, transvestites, transsexuals, politically active girls and women who experience state violence, rape and harassment in custody. In this specific area, the organisation is well known domestically and internationally as being a centre of first recourse.

      The organisation conducts research and delivers projects on issues related to gender, displacement, refugees, children, state violence and justice, as well as being part of many international projects on issues related to gender. They also work with the office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

      Besides providing legal assistance, the Office links local communities to relevant organisations for psychological and social assistance.

    • MOSAIC-Mena (Lebanon)

      Founded by activists and legal and health experts, the MENA Organisation for Services, Advocacy, Integration and Capacity Building is a holistic programme committed to improve the health and wellness of marginalised group in Lebanon and beyond.

      Through its national presence in Lebanon and its regional networks in the MENA region, MOSAIC’s strategic goal is to achieve the coexistence of people in friendly communities and national systems.

      MOSAIC-Mena provides comprehensive services for the marginalised groups, research and advocate for policy reform, build knowledge and capacities on SOGI issues, and engage the societies in the fight against human rights violations.

      Follow MOSAIC-Mena on Twitter

      Visit their website

    • PAIMAN Trust (Pakistan)

      PAIMAN, an Urdu word meaning Promise, was established in March 2004. Pro-active in functioning, pro-people in thinking, result oriented in projects and participatory in training methods, PAIMAN’s promise revolves around linking people and communities to opportunities by realising their potentials and widening their horizons.

      PAIMAN is a national organisation working across Pakistan in sectors including governance and democracy, gender and development, Women Peace and Security (WPS), preventing violent extremism, livelihood development, and health and education. PAIMAN is a pioneer in preventing / countering violent extremism (P/CVE) in Pakistan and is internationally recognised, appreciated and has received international awards for its landmark innovative initiatives in the field of P/CVE, de-radicalisation and peace building.

      Under its ‘Let’s live in Peace’ programme, PAIMAN’s model of empowering communities to prevent violent extremism through community peace structure called TOLANA is being replicated in Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Afghanistan. PAIMAN’s P/CVE framework is being shared internationally through videos and training material by various international organisations and NGOs.

      PAIMAN’s Centre for Leadership and PVE, established in 2008 in Islamabad, acts as a resource, research and training institute on the subject of Leadership, WPS, youth mobilisation for positive engagement, and peace education for the region and beyond.

      Visit their Facebook page

      Visit their website

    • Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) (Pakistan)

      SPARC’s mission is to promote and protect the rights of children and to empower them using international standards through advocacy supported by research, awareness raising, service delivery, and human and institutional development.

      SPARC works on a broad range of child rights issues, addressing the overall system and policy framework, with added focus on specific thematic areas of special importance to children. SPARC’s work is guided by international human rights principles and standards which are integrated at policy and program level. The main guiding documents include the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and relevant ILO Conventions.

      SPARC has consultative status with the United Nations ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) and the United Nations Department of Public Information and is also partnered with Defense for Children International (DCI).

      In 2003, SPARC received the United Nations Recognition Award for its work in highlighting the plight of children and promoting the rights of children in Pakistan. In 2006 SPARC received USAID certification under the USAID Institutional Management Certification Program (IMCP).

      Visit their website

    • Yakjah (India)

      Yakjah means ‘being together.’ Since 2002, Yakjah has been working with the youth of Jammu and Kashmir across faiths, cultures, ethnicities, regions and communities to build peace in the region through dialogue and peaceful ways.

      Yakjah is a network of youth for peace building; a non-partisan platform for young people to build their own agency and leadership. Through experiential workshops, youth across different communities, faith traditions and regions learn how to create a unifying perspective and generative leadership for peaceful co-existence, for promoting pluralism and an inclusive gendered approach to peace building in the region.

      Yakjah’s core work is around ‘identities’ - exploring how they get constructed and exposing the dynamics of that construction so that it allows for identity to become a unifying rather than a divisive factor.

      Their work aims to open spaces for critical enquiry, cooperative enquiry, self-enquiry and collective enquiry. Yakjah has engaged with more than 5000 youths and has a network of 100 thought leaders and volunteers who are trained as facilitators, healers, counsellors, planners, storytellers, campaigners, peace advocates, mentors, community workers and social change agents. At the core of their idea lies the vision to bring local and global perspectives into a common space to create unifying and just notions of peace.

      Follow on Twitter

      Visit their Facebook page

      Visit their website

  • Publications

Crafting resilience: The practices of making in the COVID-19 lockdown

MDX Post-doctoral research fellow Dr Zahra Hussain analyses the experiences of craftswomen in South Asia during lockdown, part of the Culture and Conflict project at the LSE-based Gender, Justice and Security hub.

Read about it on MDXMinds

Necla Acik

The past and the present; my grandfather’s return migration (1909-1918) and the current GCRF research project Return, Reintegration and Political Restructuring

Understanding return migrants and their motivation for migration and the challenges they face upon return is the current focus the GCRF funded project Migration and Displacement Stream based at Middlesex University (part of the wider GCRF Gender Security and Justice research hub based at the LSE).

Read the full feature by Necla Acik

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