Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) will increase Syrian refugee women’s ability to create positive change for their communities through the Participation and Empowerment of Syrian Refugee Women in Jordan and Lebanon project, funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF). The initiative will work with individual Syrian women and with local organizations providing services to them.
Building on their work with refugee communities thus far, WLP Jordan/SIGI-J and WLP Lebanon/CRTD.A will conduct culturally adapted training programs for Syrian refugee women on leadership, human rights, and community organization. The workshops create an environment for women to recognize their rights, re-examine their concept of self, and collaborate with others. Afterwards, participants will carry out projects and step-down trainings to disseminate what they have learned to their families and communities with coaching from WLP Partners. Some Syrian women will be given the opportunity to be further trained as advocates for refugee populations in Jordan and Lebanon, which are rarely given a voice in policy or humanitarian circles.
To build the capacity of local organizations working with Syrian Refugees, SIGI-J and CRTD.A will also lead workshops for NGO workers in these sectors. The trainings will emphasize participatory leadership, women’s human rights, steps to end gender-based violence, community organizing, peacebuilding, and the understanding of women refugees as change agents. WLP is developing the training materials to fit the cultural context and is making them freely available online in the WLP Learning Center.
Strengthened communication among stakeholders in the refugee community is a core element of this initiative. The networks formed will allow for the knowledge produced during this project to be spread exponentially throughout the region. In the long term, this will translate into increased participation of refugee women advocates in policy dialogues at national and international levels.
The Partnership has already achieved success with this ground-up approach during a number of similar workshops conducted in Lebanon in 2017. WLP will continue to use this empowerment-focused methodology to catalyze progress for refugee women’s rights.
Around the world, the spread of COVID-19 is changing how civil society organizations (CSOs) are able to conduct their work and the global women’s movement in particular is facing extraordinary challenges. Organizations that amplify women’s voices and choices on issues ranging from personal status laws to reproductive health are now confronting unparalleled hurdles but are also finding innovative approaches to continue their work. Women’s Learning Partnership’s has mobilized to ensure that the needs of women are not overlooked in emergency responses to the pandemic. Our partners are adapting their programs and campaigns to address the evolving challenges by moving their events online, using messaging apps and social media to disseminate information, sensitizing journalists about the pandemic’s particular threats to women in the home and outside, raising funds for populations most at-risk, and even broadcasting messages by megaphone in communities where there is limited technology infrastructure and access to the web.
Across the globe, governments are enacting measures to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. They are closing borders, shuttering businesses, and ordering people to stay in their homes. However critical these lockdowns and curfews are for public safety and health, women’s rights activists are concerned about their potential unintended consequences for women. They fear that the government guidelines may lead to another public health crisis—a rise in violence against women in the home. Isolation, financial worries, and constant anxiety can contribute to violence in the home, and most often the victims of this type of violence are women in the family.
WLP’s partners around the world are aware of the escalation in violence towards women, and are mobilizing to respond.