Amanda Klassen, LERRN Project Officer and PhD Candidate in Political Science at Carleton University, has published From Vulnerability to Empowerment: Critical Reflections on Canada’s Engagement with Refugee Policy in Laws, the open-access, peer-reviewed journal published by MDPI. The full article is available for download here:

Full Article (PDF)


The making and implementation of global policy are prominent areas of activity for the global refugee regime, with a specific focus on policy relating to the categories of vulnerable refugees. Recent collective efforts globally have highlighted the importance of meaningfully including refugees themselves; and a discursive shift away from the language of vulnerability towards that of empowerment in policy making, and humanitarian assistance. Despite this, efforts to implement these commitments have largely been unsuccessful, raising questions about how refugees are engaged in these processes, and in what ways the label of vulnerable continues to influence the making and implementation of global refugee policy. Using the case of Canada’s engagement with the global refugee regime, and with refugee women in particular, this article argues that the continued framing of refugee women as vulnerable has impeded progress, and that for transformative policy to be realized, refugee women must be seen as actors with capacity to participate, and must be included in all processes of policy making, implementation and evaluation. A feminist geopolitical framework is presented as a way to decenter states and institutions in favor of centering the individual embodied experiences of refugee women in global refugee policy making. By doing so, empowerment can be realized in policy and practice.