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International Journal of Refugee Law

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Women, Refugee Convention


This article reviews 16 years of Canadian case law applying the Refugee Convention’s exclusion provisions to women. Despite a quarter of a century of strong scholarly and policy-making work asserting the need for attention to gender in refugee law, this dataset shows that, in questions of exclusion, gendered analysis is almost entirely absent. By contrast, in seeking explanations for the factual basis of exclusion in these cases, gender is almost always an explanatory factor. This stark observation leads us to conclude that significant additional work – both scholarly and policy-focused – is required. The article also considers whether a more robust application of existing Supreme Court jurisprudence can address the problems we have identified and reaches a mixed conclusion. Overall, the article points out an important gap in current understandings of gender in refugee law, and maps a way forward for future work in the area.

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