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Displaced women open new doors to greater participation and empowerment

Ma’rib, Yemen – There is no doubt that displacement can be one of the hardest experiences a person can endure. This is especially true for displaced women who must often take responsibility for starting over, caring for their families and advocating for longer-term peace and stability. Ahlam*, a 34-year-old mother of four young children, was displaced to Ma'rib nearly seven years ago, leaving behind not only her home but also her freedom and source of accomplishment, her career, until a new opportunity allowed her to find her voice again. Read the rest of the story featured in IOM's Regional Office for Middle East and North Africa        


How the "Power Walk" helped displaced men in South Sudan become women's rights defenders

South Sudan – 63 Displaced men in Malakal, South Sudan, participated in 3 different sessions of the "Power Walk" training organized by IOM to help them understand the effects of inequality and power imbalance on displaced women and girls. Participants found the experience "liberating" and agreed to support gender equality in their households and the community.  The Power Walk is a roleplaying exercise that allows men to understand the power and privilege they enjoy in most societies simply by the status and power awarded to them at birth. During this exercise, participants realized that these differences are not based on skill or experience but on cultural norms and inherited power inequalities.  "This activity has liberated some of us by revealing all the power imbalance and gender bias that is deeply rooted in our society," one of the participants, Hakim Abeng, expressed.  Of course, not all men, nor all women, are the same. Even within these groups, there are significant differences in power and privilege – associated with status, physical ability, wealth, etc. However, women and girls still have less access, if none at all, to family resources, education, and movement than men and boys:   "Our society favours men over women, and this must change now; as we leave this training, we should be the change-makers in our society," Hakim stated.  Women and girls experience gender inequality throughout their lives, setting the foundation upon which violence develops and is perpetuated by men. Therefore, at the end of the Power Walk, participants made a pact to help mitigate inequalities and gender-based violence against women and girls in their community through:   promoting change at the household and community level through raising awareness on gender equality and gender roles and responsibility;  engaging women and girls in leadership and decision-making activities;  Understanding and respecting that women's and girls' rights are human rights;  and providing equal access to education, skills-building opportunities, and income generation.  The Power walk is one of many pieces of training implemented by IOM teams under the Women's Participation Project. The project supports equitable and meaningful participation and representation for more than 10,000 displaced women and girls in 12 countries to mitigate the risks of gender-based violence. Initiated in 2016, the project is part of the "Safe from the Start" Initiative funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM). 


Impact report South Sudan

IOM began its WPP operations in South Sudan in 2015 to support displaced women affected by the continuing conflict, strengthen their leadership and participation and equip them with livelihood skills that would help their confidence and economic independence. Since 2015, IOM has trained 46 IDPs in South Sudan on conducting a participatory assessment to measure the understanding of participation and the main barriers to women's and girls' engagement and representation in displacement sites. Based on the assessment's findings, IOM designed community-led strategies implemented throughout seven consecutive phases. More than 965 displaced women in South Susan, 112 with a disability, received livelihood training, leadership and communication support, and literacy courses, and 153 have received livelihood kits to support their economic independence. This document explores the impact of the intervention during the sixth phase of the project, which took place in the year 2020 and 2021 and focused on training women in leadership, and communication skills and equipping them with income-generating skills.   To access the report, please follow this link. 


Addressing displaced women's mental triggers through a mindful response

10 October 2022, Geneva– One in five persons displaced due to war or conflict will suffer from mental health problems caused by tragic events they experience somewhere in their displacement journey[1]. Unemployment, poor socioeconomic conditions, lack of social integration, and gender-based violence are risk factors for mental health conditions that are more likely to affect displaced women than men[2]. On World Mental Health Day, we explore how the Women's Participation Project (WPP) supported displaced women and girls' psychological well-being by attuning their voices, addressing their needs, promoting gender equality, and encouraging economic independence, as these values have proven a direct and beneficial effect on women's mental health [3].  "The project has equipped me with different skills that have made me look at myself with more confidence and strength. I am more aware of my worthiness, power and resilience as a woman, mother, and community member. " a female survivor of Ecuador's earthquake mentioned. The Project has supported women in knowing their rights and participating in decision-making in the sites: "Before participating in this project, I was confined in a room, weeping all day. Then I decided to be proactive and part of a women's committee. After receiving the leadership training, I feel I can do many things, explain many issues, and help other women address their needs." said a displaced woman living in Bangladesh. The lack of information about food distribution or how to obtain essential services could trigger humanitarian response-induced anxiety [4]. The WPP allows women equal access to information and services and provides awareness sessions on different topics: "I can now help protect my family and community from COVID-19 after the awareness training I received. Women are reaching out to me to learn how to make masks, which makes me feel valued in my community." A displaced woman from South Sudan said. The initiative supported women to learn new skills and engage in breadwinning activities leading to economic independence and personal satisfaction. "I learned how to tailor and make bedsheets and tablecloths. Now I am earning a steady income and contributing to my family, and I feel so proud of this achievement ". Another woman from South Sudan stated. The project has also educated men on women's rights and stimulated change by letting them experience the difficulties women and girls face due to gender: "Our society favours men over women, and this must change now; as we leave this training, we should be the change-makers in our society," said one male training participant in South Sudan. The Women's Participation Project, a global initiative implemented by IOM, will continue to support equitable and meaningful participation and representation of displaced women and girls. Initiated in 2016, the project is a part of the 'Safe from the Start' Initiative funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM). The project has helped amplify the voices of more than 5000 displaced women and girls in 12 countries worldwide and has contributed to mitigating the risk of gender-based violence in these locations.   References:  [1] [2] [3] [4]  


It takes a village to empower displaced women and girls in displacement sites worldwide

Today we celebrate World Humanitarian Day by thanking the Women's Participation Project (WPP) field colleagues currently implementing in Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen for their efforts in ensuring meaningful participation for women and girls in IDP settings.    "I am happy to be contributing to empowering displaced women, valuing their opinions, and ensuring that their leaders, partners, and others respect and take their needs into consideration." - Muanesse, CCCM Team, Mozambique On this day, we also take the opportunity to highlight the importance, effectiveness, and positive impact of WPP's work in addressing the needs of women and girls in camps and camp-like settings. "This is the first year we see displaced women taking leadership roles in sites, and that's because of the women committees that we have proudly formed." - CCCM Team, Yemen Thousands of women and girls have felt more confident due to the IOM field team's support, who believed in the project mission and worked hard to make a tangible change in the communities. "I feel I am a part of a meaningful project where women are empowered to become leaders, decision-makers, and breadwinners in their communities."- Titus, CCCM Team, South Sudan The Women's Participation Project is a global initiative implemented by IOM in different displacement contexts and settings to support equitable and meaningful participation and representation of displaced women and girls. Initiated in 2016, the Project is part of the 'Safe from the Start' Initiative funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM).  The Project has helped amplify the voices of more than 6000 displaced women and girls in 12 countries worldwide and has contributed to mitigating the risk of gender-based violence in these locations.  

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Women’s Participation Project & Toolkit

Women’s Participation Project

The Women’s Participation Project (WPP) was developed by IOM and the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) in coordination with the Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster as part of the global-level Safe from the Start initiative aimed at reducing GBV risks in camp and camp-like settings. The objective of the project is to allow CCCM practitioners to have a broader understanding of what participation is and develop strategies adapted to the context to enhance the participation of women and girls in displacement sites.

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Women's Participation Project

The Toolkit

The Women’s Participation Toolkit is a resource for CCCM actors working in camp and camp-like settings who recognize that to improve the safety and to mitigate the risks to gender-based violence (GBV) for women and girls, women and girls must participate in decision-making mechanisms and governance structures within the camp and camp-like settings.

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Countries Roll-Out