Women and Girls Safe Spaces: A Toolkit for Advancing Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in Humanitarian Settings



Women and Girls Safe Spaces: A Toolkit for Advancing Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment in Humanitarian Settings was co-created by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and International Medical Corps (IMC) and the creative energy of co-authors Melanie Megevand (IRC) and Laura Marchesini (IMC).

The development of this global toolkit would not be possible without the collaborative spirit, support, trust and engagement of a large and diverse network of individuals, teams and organizations. We would like to extend a sincere thank you to all those who contributed their experience, expertise and time to the toolkit’s development and review. Particularly, we thank you for the following:

Thought-provoking and technical leadership

A project team composed of Betsy Laird, Meghan O’Connor and Sarah Mosley from IRC’s violence prevention and response technical unit and IMC GBV senior advisor Micah Williams provided specific input and technical guidance as well as a final review. We are grateful for your trust and the thoughtprovoking space you held allowing us to learn, test ourselves and be inspired. Betsy, we particularly thank you for your co-authorship of the logical framework and the monitoring and evaluation tools in this toolkit which demonstrate the impact of WGSS in the lives of women and girls entangled in displacement, conflicts and natural disasters.

Rich contribution of best practices and key gaps in practice, guidance and tools

The content of the toolkit is based on formative research findings voiced by IRC and IMC GBV field staff in Cameroon and Ethiopia (IMC), Lebanon and Thailand (IRC) as well as partner staff from the Lebanese Red Cross (Lebanon) and Karenni National Women Organization (Thailand). In the field UNFPA, UNICEF and UNHCR field staff coordinating GBV and protection responses also contributed to the research. At the global level, the complete team of IRC Women’s Protection & Empowerment technical advisors and IMC GBV technical advisors helped us ensure the global relevance of the toolkit.

Importantly, to ensure a women and girl-led and community-informed toolkit women and older adolescent girls accessing eighteen WGSS across Cameroon, Ethiopia, Lebanon and Thailand, as well as leaders from those communities, equally shaped the focus of the guidance and approaches in the toolkit, sharing with us how safe spaces have affected their lives individually and collectively, various perspectives for why these spaces must be women and girls-only spaces, and recommendations for how we can better engage them in the co-creation and implementation of WGSS and to sustain the positive effects of WGSS in their communities.

We hope you find the toolkit reflects your voices as it allowed us to visualize the toolkit and guided our decisions throughout its development.

Inspiration and collaborative contribution to guidance and tools

A special thank you goes to the IRC teams in Lebanon and Thailand and IMC teams in Cameroon and Ethiopia. We are immensely grateful for the time and effort you dedicated to the development of this toolkit in addition to your full-time responsibilities in delivering services to women and girls. We were truly inspired by your committed support to women’s and girls’ empowerment through how you implement WGSS and the authenticity of partnerships you create in solidarity with local organizations. We highly value your consistent engagement throughout the project ensuring the toolkit reflects the reality of field work.

External coordination and peer review

We particularly thank UNFPA and GBV in Emergencies Minimum Standards task team of the GBV Area of Responsibility (AoR) who reached out to us and engaged us throughout the revision of the minimum standard related to safe spaces to ensure alignment across the two technical resources. We also want to thank the members of the Learning Reference Group of the GBV AoR who provided feedback for the external peer review of the toolkit.

French translation of the toolkit

Language can be an important barrier to the equal acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies among humanitarian field staff. While we acknowledge being unable to address this barrier entirely in the scope of this initial project, we would like to extend a special thank you to Marie-Michele Lapointe Cloutier and her team of translators who translated the toolkit into French to ensure both Francophone and Anglophone colleagues equal access and use of the toolkit’s French content.

Designing, editing and user-friendliness of the toolkit

A special thank you to the Affari team led by Daman Stancill and Drew Webb for their creative passion and support. We thank you for taking the time to understand how important the raw content was to our field of practice and for helping us convey our work into an actual user-friendly toolkit. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Leah Pasqual for the great effort dedicated to editing the toolkit and for her patience and support.

Generous financial support

Finally but certainly not least, we would also like to thank the United States Government for its generous financial support which made the production of this toolkit possible.