Celebrating women's courage for International Women's Day 2023
8 March 2023, Geneva. Today we celebrate International Women’s Day by thanking the women participating in the Women’s Participation Project in Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen for their endless motivation to achieving meaningful participation for women and girls in displacement settings. For the past 8 years, the WPP participants have given us their trust and courage to work together towards women’s empowerment, building the self-identified skills to grant them the confidence to raise their voices, access information, take part in daily life and become leaders. From building latrines in Malakal, South Sudan, to Women’s Committee members in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, taking part in fire safety trainings, women have never ceased to amaze us. At times going beyond conventional roles in their communities, identifying possibilities for themselves to become part of daily life during displacement in a way that feels safe for them, and continuously inspiring our teams to push boundaries and support activities that were designed by the women themselves. The Women's Participation Project (WPP) 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), with WASH-WPP activities in South Sudan generously funded by the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO). The Project has helped amplify the voices of more than 10,000 displaced women and girls in 12 countries worldwide and has contributed to mitigating the risk of gender-based violence in these locations.
3 Resources for humanitarians to empower and protect displaced women and girls against Gender-Based Violence
During 16 Days of Activism, the Women's Participation Project (WPP) renews its determination to promote inclusive strategies, methodologies, and tools that empower and protect displaced women and girls around the world from Gender-Based Violence. The project has been acknowledged for its inclusiveness in the Secretary-General Report on implementing the UN Disability Inclusion Strategy (2021). It is designed to ensure that women, adolescents, and women and girls with disabilities, who are at a heightened risk of Gender-Based Violence, are actively engaged throughout any intervention. WPP currently supports 7 IOM country missions and humanitarian practitioners worldwide. It offers practitioners three open resources to address the lack of meaningful and active participation of women in leadership structures in camp management responses and beyond, which is a social-level contributing factor to gender-based violence as indicated in the guidelines for Integrating GBV interventions in humanitarian action. The Women's Participation Toolkit: a resource that supported more than 350 humanitarians in 12 countries in designing and evaluating inclusive interventions that enhance women and girls' participation in decision-making and governance structures. This toolset was created in 2015 in partnership with the Women's Refugee Commission in coordination with the Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster and has since reached more than 10,000 women and girls. The Community Coordination Toolbox: a toolkit that has helped more than 2700 humanitarians in 129 countries in facilitating the engagement of displaced women and marginalised groups in humanitarian planning and decision-making. This resource was developed by the Norwegian Refugee Council in partnership with IOM in 2020. The Community Engagement Forum: a community of practice that encourages exchanges among CCCM and other humanitarian practitioners to foster the engagement of women and communities affected by displacement within the humanitarian response. This platform was established and moderated by the Norwegian Refugee Council in 2022 in partnership with IOM. The Women's Participation Project will continue to support humanitarian professionals in empowering and engaging women worldwide through IOM missions, interagency advocacy, and coordination to help mitigate the risks of gender-based violence. The project and the resources mentioned have been made possible by the "Safe from the Start" Initiative Funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM).
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.
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.
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.