International Medical Corps works to increase social, educational and recreational opportunities for women and girls affected by emergencies and displacement. With the goal of improving overall safety and well-being, we organize safe spaces for women and girls to gather, receive information, and re-build support networks that protect them in normal times. These spaces also serve as hubs for women and girls to access multiple services, from life-skills training for adolescent girls, to nursing support for new mothers. And critically, the safe spaces allow survivors of gender-based violence to safely and discreetly seek help.
Women and Girls’ Safe Spaces
Women and Girls’ Safe Spaces are centers or simple shelters where women and girls can gather, receive information, and build support networks to improve their safety and wellbeing. Safe Spaces also serve as hubs for women and girls to access multiple services, and provide a critical entry point for survivors of GBV to safely and discreetly seek help.
While Women and Girls’ Safe Spaces have been established by GBV actors for many years, documented best practices and guidance for implementing Safe Spaces has been limited. In 2014, International Medical Corps began a two-year research project with support from the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to study the effectiveness of Women and Girls’ Safe Spaces for refugees from South Sudan in Gambella, Ethiopia. Findings from this study reinforced our commitment to Safe Spaces as an important approach for supporting women and girls.
In 2017, International Medical Corps partnered with the International Rescue Committee to develop global guidance and a practitioners’ toolkit for implementing Women and Girls’ Safe Spaces. The Women’s Safe Space Toolkit (WSSTK) will be developed through coordination with multiple agencies and piloted in four countries, with support from the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. Soon, the WSSTK will be publicly available as an important resource for implementing GBV agencies.
International Medical Corps has helped to establish dedicated safe spaces for women and girls in 20 countries affected by emergencies.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, International Medical Corps provided skills training, as well as training in business skills and entrepreneurship to 1,102 women, including 627 survivors of GBV.
: In one year of programming, International Medical Corps trained 6,115 women and adolescent girls in adult literacy through women and girls’ centers in the Far North region of Cameroon.