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New Center on Gender and Forced Displacement at AIT’s GDS Program to Advance Policy Change in South and Southeast Asia

10 May 2023
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By AIT Public Affairs

May 10, 2023 – The Gender and Development Studies (GDS) program at the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) launched the Center on Gender and Forced Displacement (CGFD) alongside the inauguration of the IDRC Endowed Research Chair Professor on Gender and Forced Displacement on 9 May 2023. The incoming Chair, Professor Paula Banerjee, a world-renowned scholar on gender, migration, and forced displacement, will lead the center as its director.

The CGFD aims to produce world-class research on gender in the context of conflict-induced, climate change, environmental, disaster-induced, and development-induced forced displacement, focusing mainly on South and Southeast Asia. The center aims to generate locally-led, context-informed, multi-disciplinary, and gender-responsive knowledge on forced displacement to inform policy processes at national, regional, and global levels.

The IDRC Endowed Research Chair and CGFD intend to bridge the gap in research and policy impact on the gender dimensions of forced displacement, particularly in contexts where vulnerabilities are severe, and capacities to strengthen resilience are limited. In addition, the center will seek to understand how gender intersects with other forms of social differentiation, including displacement experience and impact on diverse ethnic and indigenous communities, sexual and gender identity groups, and different caste categories.

AIT’s Gender and Development Studies (GDS) program, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2022, has a long tradition of research on migration and forced displacement. The IDRC Endowed Research Chair and CGFD will further expand this expertise and strengthen institutional capacity. In addition, the center will build and expand networks to ensure cross-learning and research capacity development in the region, working in partnership with other universities, governments, the UN system, international and national/local non-governmental organizations, and community-based organizations and representatives of displaced people and groups. 

“The inauguration of the CGFD and the IDRC Endowed Research Chair Professor on Gender and Forced Displacement at AIT signifies a crucial advancement in tackling the gender aspects of forced displacement in the region. We firmly believe that under the guidance of Professor Banerjee, the center will take on an instrumental role in devising cutting-edge resolutions to this pressing issue in the region and globally. AIT is committed to collaborating with regional and global stakeholders to further research and inform policy processes on this critical issue,” stated AIT Interim President Prof. Kazuo Yamamoto.

H.E. Dr. Sarah Taylor, Ambassador of Canada to Thailand, Cambodia, and Lao PDR, acknowledged the relationship between Thailand and Canada, particularly the longstanding collaboration between Canada and AIT. Congratulating the new center’s inauguration, she emphasized that the center’s focus on gender and forced displacement in the post-pandemic era will address the existing gender inequalities and climate change challenges in the region. Recognizing the specific needs of women and girls in forced displacement, she stressed the importance of a targeted approach, stating, “This partnership promotes academic cooperation, fosters connections among regional experts, and supports research in forced displacement.” She added, “The initiative aligns with Canada’s feminist approach, addressing the increasing number of displaced populations, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. It emphasizes comprehensive refugee responses involving diverse stakeholders, including refugees themselves. I hope the efforts of the center and research chair will inspire necessary actions in addressing forced displacement challenges.”

Prof. Kazuo Yamamoto
H.E. Dr. Sarah Taylor
Mr. Kundan Mishra
Prof. Paula Banerjee

“Displacement is never a natural order of things. There is usually a power hierarchy, and the powerful decide to displace the powerless, who they then mark as alien/criminal/unworthy of support. Any community that is displaced has women whose lives become even more endangered as a result of Displacement. Other than doing seminal research, this center intends to be the voice of these voiceless groups and hopes to incessantly push gender in all policy decisions that are taken for the marginalized and displaced communities, ” said Professor Banerjee highlighting the center’s mission.

The CGFD will address fundamental research questions, including significant drivers of forced displacement, gender dimensions in experiences of forced displacement, and existing policy responses to forced displacement and how they address gender dynamics.

For more information on the CGFD and IDRC Endowed Research Chair Professor on Gender and Forced Displacement, please visit the AIT website or contact the Gender and Development Studies program.

About the Chair: 

Professor Paula Banerjee, an internationally renowned scholar on gender, migration, and forced displacement, will serve as the director of the CGFD. She has extensive research experience and a publication record on forced displacement and gender in both South and Southeast Asia, having obtained a Ph.D. in 1993 from the University of Cincinnati, USA. Professor Banerjee has published 15 books, over 44 articles, book chapters, and many more conference papers and reports. She is also the editor of Refugee Watch and has served as a two-term president of the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration (IASFM).