Empowering Each Other Project in the Za’atari Camp (Phase III)

Democracy and Governance


In Za’atari Camp, through engagement with ARDD-Legal Aid in civic engagement projects,  Syrian women refugees have voiced their interest in actively participating in improving the conditions under which they and their families are currently living. However, their attempts at articulating this need has often landed on deaf ears, which has resulted in frustration and disengagement. Despite well-intentioned efforts, the current camp system and structure is not welcoming to the engagement of women in decision making processes. In response to these issues, over the past two years, ARDD-Legal Aid, in partnership with UN Women, has been implementing “Empowering Each Other”. The program focuses on utilizing civic engagement to prevent SGBV. The first phase of the program, implemented in 2014, engaged with the UN Women Oasis program by providing training on much needed skills in civic engagement, in order for the women to effectively analyze, strategize and take action on issues that impact them within the Camp. The skills gained through the first phase of the project not only supported women in addressing issues that impacted them within the camp, but also helped them to better communicate with their families at home and will hopefully help them in the future when they leave the camp. The first phase of the program engaged and mobilized a group of 20 women and 15 men.

The second phase of the program was implemented in 2015, again focusing on civic engagement, and highlighted the positive role both women and men can play in solving community challenges within the camp. This phase engaged 50 men and women through civic engagement trainings. Additionally, 184 men were engaged in psychosocial support sessions, which provided them the space to talk about their psychosocial well-being in the camp, raise their awareness on SGBV, and gain a better understanding on how to contribute to SGBV prevention. During this phase there was a focus on attitudinal change, which aimed to give concrete actions that can be taken to engage both men and women in creating an environment free of SGBV. Through the civic engagement workshops, both men and women effectively implemented their own community initiatives that aimed to raise awareness and change attitudes and behaviors on the topics of early marriage, health, harassment and education among community members. 
The second phase of the program was successful in engaging men as potential allies in SGBV prevention, by offering a safe space in which they felt heard and were able to share their experiences. Participants were encouraged to use their own experience to understand the topics and find common solutions. 
Through the first two phases of the project, ARDD-Legal Aid learned of the importance of engaging both men and women through civic engagement and psychosocial support sessions in creating a greater awareness and action in preventing SGBV. Using the lessons from both of these phases, ARDD-Legal Aid, in partnership with UN Women, will begin the third phase of the project by scaling up the activities from the first two phases. Additionally, we will focus finding creative ways to sustain the impact from the project, and address new issues that have emerged in the camp concerning SGBV. 
ARDD-Legal Aid will employ four separate activities in order to fulfill the objectives of SGBV prevention and civic engagement promotion, including; 

1. SGBV prevention training through our “He for She” program, which proved successful during our second phase. The effects of the Syrian crisis have led to the deterioration of the psychosocial well-being of men, further exacerbated by the fact that men in Za’atari camp have little access to general information about camp services, and therefore rely primarily on women who often have better access to services. There are many serious implications with regards to the psychosocial well-being of men which has been shown to lead to increased tensions and violence within the home and the community at-large. The “He for She” program centers around three main topics:  anger and stress management, masculinity and gender roles, challenging thoughts and beliefs of GBV. 

2. Civic engagement training through which 25 exemplary participants from the “He for She” trainings will have an opportunity to implement their own projects and continue expanding their knowledge. The civic engagement training will include sessions on: reflections on gender, gender equality, and analyzing gender gols; preventing S/GBV; communication skills for men and women on SGBV; gender sensitive leadership; civic engagement for SGBV prevention; problem solving and advocacy through developing community initiatives; development of an action plan for initiatives (as a joint session with both women and male participants). Following these content-based trainings, participants will begin to utilize the new skills they have gained by implementing community-based initiatives to actively engage in the prevention of S/GBV.

3. ARDD-Legal Aid will engage artists to host interactive story telling sessions targeting young men from the ages of 17 to 30 through the “16 Days of Activism” Program. The 16 days will focus on the prevention of child marriage, unregistered marriages, SGBV and reproductive health issues. 

4. Create a second cohort of The UN Women “Women’s Committee,” who will advocate for youth women’s issues in the camp. The beneficiaries will have participated in the civic engagement for SGBV program where will gain the necessary skills to allow them identify community issues and develop effective advocacy strategies to improve the situation of women in the refugee camp.