By Ritah Nansereko, Executive Director, AWYAD
African Women and Youth Action for Development (AWYAD) delivers protection programming to displaced people and communities in emergency situations in four refugee settlements in Uganda. Preventing and responding to gender-based violence (GBV) is a core component of AWYAD’s protection programming, which it undertakes together with other agencies. AWYAD considers GBV prevention and response interventions life-saving humanitarian interventions; the various aspects of our interventions are outlined below.
We support community members’ efforts to prevent GBV and promote gender equality through awareness-raising and behaviour change communication. This includes providing information on how survivors can access justice through formal and informal mechanisms.
We establish community-based protection structures that work as information conduits (e.g. information or complaints desks) to AWYAD regarding GBV. They also offer psychosocial first aid to survivors, refer cases to appropriate service providers, and conduct community awareness on GBV.
We work with partner organizations to support the creation of safe spaces for women and children in out-of-camp settings. Where these already exist, we make communities more aware of them.
We support communities’ own self-protection efforts by providing people at risk with relevant assets, e.g. solar-powered lights and padlocks.
We provide dignity kits, such as menstrual hygiene kits and ‘mama kits’ for expectant mothers (to ensure safe delivery). In this context, a lack of access to dignity kits can lead young girls to engage in transactional sex for basic needs like sanitary pads. Dignity kits also contribute to the psychosocial and physical well-being of women and girls, and improve their mobility.
We engage with more privileged people – such as men, humanitarian workers, employers, teachers and landlords – and educate them about the risks and consequences of GBV.
We provide training to local authorities and law enforcement to ensure that they recognize, respect and protect the rights of women and girls at risk of GBV, including survivors.
We help organize community dialogues with community members, local authorities and law enforcement personnel to find practical strategies for preventing GBV in the community. For instance, we have organized dialogues on harmful cultural practices that affect women and girls’ rights geared towards finding joint action to address their impacts.
We provide women-only and men-only forums for women and men to discuss issues related to GBV and come up with solutions to reduce its incidence in their communities.