Combating Gender Based Violence

Action from Switzerland held a two-day Gender-Based Violence (GBV) training at the Athena Women’s Centre for volunteers working on Chios island, namely from our partners, the Refugees Law Clinic Abroad, SMH and BAAS.

We believe the training was much-needed – vital education to female volunteers to help strengthen the relationship and support offering they can provide to their fellow women on the run who are unfortunately all too often exposed to such atrocities. The training concentrated on the psychosocial support required for women affected by GBV and how to prepare volunteers for what to expect when working with its survivors they encounter in the field.

During these two days, we discussed the different types and manifestations of GBV alongside practical guidance on psychosocial support relating to GBV survivors. We focused on the direct response for survivors and identification of their complex needs, but also talked about the related Greek legal framework so that volunteers could be aware of the ‘official’ levels of support that might be available elsewhere.

Providing open access to this kind of training to shine a light on gender issues and to offer valuable preparation to female volunteers working in the field is of paramount importance and yet is often difficult to administer due to restricted resources and the transience of those working on the island. Nevertheless, due to the very same reasons it is arguably more important that this type of training takes place, when there are many well-intentioned volunteers who arrive with little understanding of the particularities of GBV cases and how to handle them, sometimes leading to misunderstandings and ineffective courses of action.

We believe that it’s essential that people on the ground are able to identify GBV cases and that they possess an informed and sensitive perspective when it comes to approaching gender specific issues, as well as to be able to have an immediate response to survivors’ needs.

We are proud that our Centre has yet again been able to continue its pioneering work championing the needs of women on the island and that it is constantly finding more ways to enhance their well-being in a situation where they have so much to deal with and suffering to bear.

Being able to raise the standards of the support we offer can only lead to better outcomes for the women. Therefore, our goal is to continue providing GBV training to volunteers so that as many as possible become familiarised with the principles of Gender Based Violence and how to respond to it.

Our vision is that together we are able to develop a collective understanding of the nature of GBV and the needs of its victims so that we can be best positioned to offer them tailored and effective support to relieve the horrors of their experiences and aid their recovery.

In addition, we are also aiming to raise awareness of the issue amongst the population of refugees themselves, and are planning imminently to initiate similar GBV awareness sessions with the women visiting our Centre and further afield, in order to reach as many of the refugee community as we can.

Our hope is that this will lead to a greater understanding and the opportunity for shared learning around gender issues more broadly and will start to challenge established perceptions and lead to better outcomes for everyone.

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