A Safe Place to Shine: Creating opportunities and raising the voice of adolescent girls in humanitarian settings

For girls, adolescence is an exceptionally challenging time, where they encounter new social barriers that may jeopardize their health, independence, and safety. In humanitarian crises, this insecurity is amplified. Institutions that girls would normally rely on for help during this trialing time--such as health care, social services, educational facilities, and the family unit--may be displaced or non-existent in a crisis. This leaves adolescent girls incredibly vulnerable to gender-based violence (GBV), including sexual violence, domestic abuse, and early marriage.

The effects of gender-based violence on adolescent girls are far-stretching and long-term, affecting girls' physical and psychological health. While an increasing amount of information is available on the prevalence of gender-based violence, little data exists on adolescent girls in humanitarian settings. Consequently, there is a knowledge gap on strategies to protect girls in humanitarian settings and how to best assist recovery for those who have been subjected to gender-based violence.

To address this gap, the International Rescue Committee partnered with Columbia University to create, execute, and assess the Creating Opportunities through Mentoring, Parental Involvement, and Safe Spaces (COMPASS) Programme over a three-year period (2014-2017). It was carried out in refugee camps on the Sudan/Ethiopia border, conflict-affected communities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and displaced communities in north-west Pakistan.

Published 2018-01-16

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