Helpdesk Research Report: Child-friendly spaces for adolescent girls in emergency settings

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Child-friendly spaces for adolescent girls in emergency settings: What is the evidence that child-friendly spaces in emergency settings address the specific needs of adolescent girls (particularly with regards to preventing violence)?

Helpdesk response

The evidence base on this issue is small. Few programmes provide safe spaces exclusively for girls, although many child-friendly spaces run sessions by age and gender. Married girls and adolescent mothers are particularly under-served. Within emergency contexts, the provision of safe spaces tends to focus on psychosocial care and on developing social skills and social networks. Child-friendly spaces, often focused on younger children, do not always respond to older children’s interest in formal learning and vocational training.

The most frequently-cited barriers to girls’ access to safe spaces programmes are domestic duties, and fear of (or caregiver fear of) being outside. Some programmes have pursued gendered strategies such as changing the times of girls’ sessions, allowing them to bring younger siblings, or enabling fathers to escort their daughters. Papers that made recommendations specifically for girls stated that girls need to be explicitly targeted and that staff members need to perform door-to-door outreach to ensure girls’ participation.