Seeking Change in Hagadera Refugee Camp — A Conversation with GBV Case Workers
On a field visit to Hagadera refugee camp, to learn more about the activities carried out under the Irish Aid Strategic Partnership, Anna Smith, Frameworks and Grants Manager at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) sat down with two Case Workers at the IRC in Kenya. In this Medium article she shares their conversation on the challenges women and girls face in their daily lives in the camp and on the activities they pursue as case workers in support of GBV survivors.
A Day in the Life of a Refugee Community Worker in Dadaab – shared in an illustrated story
As part of the What Works to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls Consortium, IRC together with London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and CARE International published a report on refugee community workers in Dadaab. A day in the life of one of these refugee community workers was shared in an illustrated article based on the testimony of “Miriam,” a refugee working with IRC to support survivors of GBV.
Groundbreaking Report on Violence against Women and Girls in South Sudan Featured in Numerous Media Outlets
The IRC, together with the Global Women’s Institute (GWI) at George Washington University and CARE International UK, launched a groundbreaking report on violence against women and girls in South Sudan during the 16 Days of Activism against GBV. With launches in Washington and London, and more to come in South Sudan, the report garnered widespread visibility in a number of media outlets, including the Boston Globe, the Associated Press, the Independent, Thomson Reuters, GW Today, Europa Press (in Spanish), Namibia Daily News, Sudan Tribune, Medical Xpress, and the African Independent, among others. In addition, the principal investigator and lead report author, Dr. Mary Ellsberg from GWI, was interviewed for BBC Newsday (timestamp 48:09-52:59) and the Women’s Protection and Empowerment podcast. The report was also disseminated through the story of thirteen year old Helena.
Findings from IRC’s COMPASS Evaluation Make Headlines
A recent IRC report finds that adolescent girls in humanitarian settings in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Pakistan overwhelmingly suffer abuse by people they know, with girls as young as 10 experiencing high levels of gender-based violence. News of the report and its alarming findings made their way into the media recently with two feature articles in Newsweek and Thomson Reuters. Newsweek’s coverage focuses on the value of the IRC’s safe space programming for fostering friendships, safety and support, and features photos from Meredith Hutchison’s Vision Not Victim project in Ethiopia. The IRC’s Ilaria Michelis spoke with Thomson Reuters to shed light on the findings, emphasizing that the vast majority of gender-based violence that the girls experienced was perpetrated by intimate partners or family members. The report was also disseminated through a video made for social media featuring girls from Sherkole refugee camp.
#16Days Conversation Series with Women’s Protection and Empowerment Field Staff
In honor of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, the IRC held a series of conversations with local Women’s Protection and Empowerment field staff in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, and Somalia to shed light on a number of issues related to violence against women and girls. The series, featured on Medium, aims to bring the voices of national staff into the global arena. Part 1 in this three-part series focuses on GBV prevention programs and strategies. Part 2 focuses on promoting the needs of adolescent girls in humanitarian settings. And Part 3 focuses on the importance of women-led initiatives and partnerships.
IRC shares expert views on EU-UN Spotlight Initiative on Eliminating Violence against Women
The European Union and UN have launched a spotlight initiative to eliminate such violence against women, with the EU pledging 500 million euros ($585.6m) to the cause. In this NewsDeeply article, the IRC’s Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer for Women’s Protection and Empowerment, Janine Kossen, is one of three GBV specialists interviewed about how the money should be spent, what types of partners should be brought on board, and what effective action on violence against women would actually look like.
IRC’s COMPASS program featured in NPR
A June 2, 2017 article in NPR reveals that more than half of girls in humanitarian contexts in Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had experienced at least one form of violence in the past year, according to research conducted by Columbia University. Technology may have a role to play in the types of gender-based violence that the girls disclosed. The research team analysed survey responses from nearly 1,300 girls who participated in the IRC’s Creating Opportunities through Mentoring, Parental Involvement and Safe Spaces (COMPASS) program, funded by UK DFID, with results published in the Journal of Global Health. The girls, aged 10-19, reported violence at the hands of strangers when in group discussions; however through private surveys conducted via tablets, the girls were much more likely to disclose that they had experienced violence at the hands of someone close to them—intimate partners, family members, or caregivers. Final results across these two contexts as well as Pakistan will be released in the fall of 2017.
IRC signs joint letter to US Government on the importance of US foreign assistance for women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment
The IRC is proud to be one of 118 organizations who signed a public letter calling on the US Administration and Congress to protect funding for US foreign assistance, particularly funding for programs and services that invest in women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment. The letter, which was delivered to the US Secretary of State, Acting Administrator of USAID, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Special Assistant to the US President, sent a strong message about the importance of these programs for the promotion of gender equality, women’s health, education, economic opportunity, political participation, and the prevention and response of violence against women and girls around the world.
IRC quoted about Domestic Violence in Africa
In a landmark 2012 report, Let Me Not Die Before My Time, the IRC reported that domestic violence was the most common type of violence perpetrated against women and girls in West Africa. Sadly, this is still true as reported by NewsDeeply on April 27, 2017. In this article, the IRC’s Senior Director for Violence Prevention and Response, Nicole Behnam, is quoted discussing the impacts of domestic violence on women and girls. She states that “violence keeps girls out of school. Violence is the barrier that keeps women from engaging economically, from engaging politically. When you see the widespread toxic effects that violence has, you lose an entire demographic because they are not using their potential.”
The Perilous Predicament of Women Refugees
All along their journey from displacement to resettlement, violence and insecurity stand in the way of women’s and girls’ right to safety, health, education, and economic wellbeing. The IRC’s Senior Vice President, Jodi Nelson, penned this Huffington Post op-ed in honor of International Women’s Day to bring to light the impacts of recent political dynamics on refugee women and girls, including the suspension of the US refugee admissions program as well as budget cuts to critical humanitarian aid programs.
From displacement to resettlement, women and children are the face of this humanitarian crisis
More than 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to conflict and disaster; 75% of them are women and children. Yet, what we see on our television screens and in our social media feeds does not match what we know to be true—that women and children are the face of this humanitarian crisis. In this special International Women’s Day feature on Medium, the IRC’s Senior Director for Violence Prevention and Response, Nicole Behnam, writes about the barriers that are preventing us from seeing this as a gendered crisis and responding accordingly.
Huffington Post Features Advocacy Letter Against US Executive Order
This article highlights the concerns of over 55 advocacy organizations, including the IRC, who signed onto a letter in opposition to the US Executive Order dated March 6, 2017. The letter, which was sent to the President and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, strongly advocated against language included in the Executive Order that requires data to be collected on the number and types of GBV committed in the US by foreign nationals. The article and the accompanying letter point out that such a requirement falsely equates Islam with violence against women and girls and does nothing to stem the tide of GBV, which is perpetrated in every country in the world.
IRC signs joint letter to US Government in response to March 6, 2017 Executive Order
The IRC joined 55 organizations in signing a public letter to the US President and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security on March 14th. The letter sent a strong message calling for the rescission of the March 6, 2017 Executive Order and language included therein to collect data on the number and types of GBV committed in the US by foreign nationals.
IRC signs joint letter to US Government on immigrant and refugee survivors of violence
The IRC joined 560 national, state, and local organizations in signing a public letter to the US Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The letter sent a strong message calling on DHS and ICE to recognize that the February 20 Executive Order, and its associated agency policies, make our communities less safe and that immigrant and refugee survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking deserve protection, not deportation.
IRC’s COMPASS program featured in Huffington Post
Columbia University’s Lindsay Stark authored an article for the Huffington Post on January 10, 2017, highlighting the work the IRC is doing in the Democratic Republic of Congo to empower girls and promote equitable gender norms through Creating Opportunities for Mentorship, Parenting, and Safe Spaces (COMPASS). The program takes place in a context where girls say that “girls are underestimated” and that “we aren’t considered in the same way as boys…boys don’t really work. They think of us as their donkeys.” The article notes Columbia University’s evaluation of IRC’s curriculum designed to prevent sexual violence in part by highlighting inequitable and unacceptable norms, including those that allow men to beat women and marry underage girls. The study analysed data for 869 girls aged 10-14 in 14 villages in South Kivu, DRC, and examined attitudes towards intimate partner violence, exposure to physical, emotional, and sexual violence within the last year, and the girls’ perceptions of hope.
IRC’s WPE staff quoted in Reuters article on Nigerian schoolgirls
On 18 October 2016, Thomson Reuters Foundation News reported that 21 Nigerian schoolgirls held in Boko Haram captivity had been returned to their families. The article quotes IRC’s Patty Gray about the challenges the young girls will face now that they are back in their home communities, explaining that “[w]omen and girls held by Boko Haram have fear and anxiety about how their families and communities will receive them … people being scared of you is traumatizing in its own right.”
IRC Signs Joint Letter to DFID on Gender Equality
IRC joined 40 organisations and high-profile advocates in signing a public letter to the new UK Secretary of State for International Development to prioritise the rights of women and girls and support the vital work of women’s rights organisations around the world. Alongside the likes of Oxfam GB and Care International UK as well as celebrities such as Keira Knightley, Thandie Newton and Emma Thompson, the IRC was named in a Telegraph article from Friday 12 August 2016 calling on Priti Patel to recognise and invest in the important role of grassroots women’s rights organisations in achieving global gender equality, highlighting that funding women’s rights organisations is a neglected area in DFID spending.
10 Steps to Stop Violence Against Female Refugees
On July 14, 2016, The Guardian hosted a live Q&A with leading experts, including IRC’s Emergency GBV Coordinator in Greece, to discuss practical steps that can be taken to prevent and reduce the risk of violence against refugee women and girls. Based on this discussion, ten steps to stop violence against female refugees were highlighted in a follow-up feature on July 27.
Vision not Victim featured by Ms. Magazine
On July 14th, 2016 Ms. Magazine – an historic feminist magazine – shared a blog article featuring the Vision not Victim project and images from Jordan, Cote D’Ivoire and DRC. The post outlined the program, while talking about the challenges and vulnerabilities facing girls living in contexts of conflict and poverty.
More information please see the full article here.
Adolescent girls in emergencies: will they fall further or fly higher?
Adolescent girls are an untapped resource in almost every country in the world. Yet, when conflict and disaster strike, their promise and potential are often the first to be sacrificed and the last to be restored. The IRC’s Senior Director for Violence Prevention and Response writes in Medium about the #BetterAid work the IRC is undertaking through its Let Girls Learn commitment and its GIRL SHINE programming.
Real-Time Accountability Partnership on GBV in Emergencies
The International Rescue Committee, OCHA, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR, and USAID’s Office of United States Foreign Disaster Assistance are pleased to announce a global, multi-agency initiative on addressing gender-based violence in emergencies, the Real-Time Accountability Partnership (RTAP). The RTAP aims to harness the collective power of the humanitarian community to ensure that all individuals, particularly women and girls, are free from the threat of gender-based violence (GBV). Specifically, the RTAP’s goal is that all actors prioritize and coordinate GBV response services and integrate GBV prevention across sectors from the outset of an emergency.
For more information please see our official announcement.
IRC’s “What Works” Research Featured in The Guardian
In a February 10, 2016 article, the Guardian examined efforts to train police, legal officers and community workers to respond to violence committed against women and girls in refugee and IDP camps in South Sudan. Carmen Lowry of the IRC’s Women’s Protection and Empowerment team provided insight into how the lack of attention to the issue has led to an under-investment in gender-based violence programming and life-saving services. The article further highlights the IRC’s “What Works” research project with George Washington University, which is assessing the prevalence of gender-based violence in South Sudan and building the evidence base on what drives this violence and what interventions are most successful at preventing it.
IRC’s Vision Not Victim Project Featured in Multiple Media Outlets During Syria Donor Conference
On February 4, 2016, the United Nations, the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, and Kuwait hosted a donor pledging conference to support humanitarian efforts in the Syria Region. IRC’s Vision Not Victim project working with Syrian adolescent girls in Jordan received a tremendous amount of media coverage as a result of the worldwide attention focused on the pledging conference. In particular, articles and photo essays on the project were featured on the BBC Radio (at 48:00 minutes), BBC in pictures, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, International Business Times-UK, Buzzfeed, Buzzfeed-France, CNN, NY Daily News, Medium, ABC News, The Globe and Mail, The Mirror, Revelist, PRI, la Repubblica, Jordan News, and Singapore News, just to name a few.
IRC Advocacy Efforts for Women and Girls Recognized at the Syria Donor Conference
In a February 4, 2016 article in The Guardian, Liz Ford highlights the work of the IRC in advocating for specific funding to be dedicated to women’s protection and empowerment in the Syria region. In addition, Jane Waterman, Executive Director IRC-UK and Senior Vice President Europe, posted a blog on Medium, which covered IRC’s women’s protection and empowerment work in both the Syria region as well as in the Europe crisis.
New Video on IRC’s Women’s Protection and Empowerment Work in the Syria Region Launched for the Syria Donor Conference
On February 2, 2016, the IRC released a new video to bring to light three main concerns displaced Syrian women and girls shared with us during in-depth discussions in the Syria region: sexual exploitation and harassment, domestic violence, and early and forced marriage. The video also highlights the work of IRC’s women’s protection and empowerment teams in the Syria region.
Are We Forgetting About the Women and Girls Also Fleeing to Europe?
In this December 2015 Huffington Post UK blog post, the IRC raises important questions about how and why the humanitarian community and global media outlets have ignored the specific experiences refugee women and children face along their journeys through Europe. The blog points out that not only are refugee women and children vulnerable to multiple forms of gender-based violence during transit; they also lack access to lifesaving protection and support services, as well as prioritization in EU and UK asylum and resettlement policies and practices.
IRC WPE featured in The Guardian
The Guardian article “Women and girls ‘failed’ by international response in Syria” highlights the International Rescue Committee (IRC)’s report “Are We Listening?” which makes eight recommendations to ensure greater protection from sexual violence, exploitation and forced marriage.
Since December 2013, vicious attacks in Bangui have caused over half the city’s population to flee their homes. As soon as the crisis hit, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) deployed two case workers from its programmes in Kagabandoro to Bangui to provide gender-based violence (GBV) emergency case management services to survivors, and later opening listening centres in Bangui. Since then, more than 950 women and girls have sought help at IRC centres. Nearly 80% reported being raped, in many instances by multiple men affiliated with one armed group or another. In this article, the IRC develops its approach to GBV programming in the CAR and sets recommendations to translate high-level commitments to impact on the ground. Read the article here.
Despite legislation meant to help women and girls in conflict zones, much more must be done to ensure rapid action on the ground—especially in Syria. In this op-ed by IRC’s David Miliband and Georgetown University’s Melanne Verveer share their views.
How can humanitarian agencies better prevent and respond to gender-based violence (GBV) in emergencies? On 18 February 2014, the Humanitarian Practice Network (HPN) held an event to examine the challenges associated with prevention and response programming, the different forms of violence facing women and girls and the ways in which the needs of survivors can be better addressed in humanitarian crises.
IRC WPE featured in Humanitarian Exchange
Alina Potts and Virginia Zuco report on the International Rescue Committee (IRC)’s experience of operationalising GBV guidance. If GBV programming is essential in emergencies, how do we do it? Developing a model to operationalise existing guidance.
Aisha Bain and Marie-France Guimond uses examples from West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to demonstrate how service-based data can be used to improve GBV programming. Impacting the lives of survivors: using service-based data in GBV programmes.
Minimum Standards to Child Protection in Humanitarian Action: Sexual Violence
In 2010, the members of the global Child Protection Working Group agreed on the need for child protection standards in humanitarian settings. The Minimum Standards for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action (CPMS) were finalized in September 2012. Over 400 individuals from 30 agencies in over 40 countries, including child protection practitioners, humanitarian actors from other sectors, academics and policy makers, were involved in their development. Standard 9; Sexual Violence addresses minimum standards to prevent and respond to children affected by sexual violence. Here’s a new video on this standard: