Action for Women is a non-profit organization providing safety, support and hope for women on the run. The organisation was founded in September 2015 by Gabrielle Tay.
Gabrielle saw Europe’s refugee crisis unfold on television in her living room in Zürich and was prompted to take action. Her first trip was to Hungary, transporting two six-tonne trucks loaded with donations received through a simple Facebook appeal, and witnessing first hand the stream of displaced people arriving at the border with Serbia. A few months later, she went to Chios, where boatloads of refugees were arriving from Turkey.
With the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal on 20th March 2016, the normally transient population became a stagnant one. There she discovered that women were being pushed out from public spaces in the camps. Compounded by their domestic responsibilities, which often meant they were unable to participate meaningfully in information-sharing activities and sessions, women were left with a lack of clarity about their options and relied on men to be their source of information. It was this situation on that prompted her to focus the organisation’s resources on women and we opened our Athena Centre for Women, the first female-only facility in Greece outside of sites and camps, in July 2016. Through its three pillars of safety, support and hope it empowers women to forge their new lives in Europe.
Larger aid organisations have been adhering to outdated programmes to deal with this crisis, with methods that often foster dependency. In response we have now opened the Halycon Days Project in Athens to continue our work with women who have been transferred from Chios to the mainland. Athens has become the main destination for asylum seekers arriving from the Greek islands. It is also a city that has long been a hotbed for human trafficking, exploitation and forced prostitution. Our mission is to provide a safe and supportive living space for women and their families as they rebuild their lives and pursue their dreams. It is our aim to holistically heal and empower our residents to achieve financial and emotional stability as they embark on their new, independent lives in Europe.