Diversity refers to different values, attitudes, cultural perspectives, beliefs, ethnic background, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, health, social status, skill and other specific personal characteristics. While the age and gender dimensions are present in everyone, other characteristics vary from person to person. These differences must be recognized, understood and valued by humanitarian actors in each specific emergency in order to ensure adequate protection for all people. You will find below a non-exhaustive list of groups under the broad Diversity umbrella:
Women and girls frequently take on important roles in their families and communities. But they often have fewer opportunities and resources, lower socio-economic status, less power and influence and face multiple layers of discrimination. These factors are sharply amplified by displacement, leading to exposure to numerous protection risks, including exploitation, enslavement, rape and other forms of abuse and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV). Women suffering from discrimination and violence face enormous challenges providing for their families and themselves. Their engagement in improving their own situation has a direct and positive impact on the well-being, livelihood and protection of their families and communities.
The roles of men and boys often change in displacement. This can create protection risks that need to be detected and addressed. Boys, in particular, can be at high risk of trafficking, forced recruitment and sexual and other forms of violence and abuse in situations of displacement. Promoting and supporting the positive engagement of men and boys in the many issues related to their community, including in the prevention and response to SGBV, is a fundamental step towards ensuring access to protection and equality for all.
Children, including adolescents, enjoy comprehensive rights under international law, yet they are often deprived of the most basic ones. Forced displacement exacerbates children’s exposure to neglect, exploitation, and sexual and other forms of violence and abuse. Children are at particular risk and require special attention due to their dependence on adults to survive, their vulnerability to physical and psychological trauma, and their needs that must be met to ensure normal growth and development. Participating in education in a safe environment provides children and young people with invaluable opportunities to attain normalcy in their lives. It is also a powerful vehicle for raising awareness of gender equality and teaching children and young people to respect one another and diversity within their communities. Children can often bring unique and valuable perspectives and solutions to the problems confronting them and their communities. Their participation in decisions affecting them, as well as their best interests and a strong focus on their protection and wellbeing, are essential.
People who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual or intersex (LGBTI) are often exposed to discrimination and abuse linked to their sexual orientation and gender identity. These risk factors are often severely compounded in situations of displacement, where the nature of the discrimination they encounter can be particularly negative, their isolation from family and community profound, and the harm inflicted on them severe. Their participation in decisions affecting them is central to maximizing their protection, access to rights and the positive contribution they can make to community life.
Older women and men have the same basic needs as others, but may suffer increasing vulnerability due to the aging process. Aging factors alone, or in combination with other individual characteristics, can place older persons in situations of forced displacement at heightened risk of marginalization, exploitation and other forms of abuse. While they may be severely challenged during displacement, older persons should not be seen only as passive, dependent recipients of assistance. Older people often serve as community leaders and transmitters of knowledge, culture, skills and crafts. They can give guidance and advice, and contribute to peace and reconciliation measures, thus contributing greatly to the well-being of their families and communities.
Disability may affect every aspect of an individual’s life and that of his or her family. People with disabilities may face heightened protection risks in displacement, such as exposure to violence and sexual abuse, exploitation, and exclusion from humanitarian assistance, education, livelihoods and health care. The participation of people with disabilities from a range of backgrounds is essential to identifying and developing appropriate solutions to disability challenges during and because of forced displacement. The inclusion of children with disabilities in education is a dynamic process that is central to a wider strategy to promote an inclusive society. People with disabilities, like all people, have skills and capacities to offer to their communities. These are to be valued and promoted.
Persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities or indigenous groups often experience discrimination and marginalization, factors that are compounded in forced displacement situations. Age, gender and other specific factors may expose them to additional protection risks and discrimination. Working closely with minority and indigenous groups to identify the risks they face as well as strategies to mitigate them, is of fundamental importance. As individuals and groups, their active participation in community life is an enriching ingredient to be promoted.