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My Safety, My Wellbeing: equipping adolescent girls

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In 2012, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) initiated programming in Lebanon to respond to the influx of refugees fleeing the conflict in neighboring Syria. Following a rapid assessment on the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV), the IRC launched a Women’s Protection and Empowerment (WPE) program aimed at preventing and responding to GBV. Over nearly two years of WPE programming, one of the key observations has been that adolescent girls (age 11-18) are especially vulnerable to GBV. To more effectively reach these girls, the IRC sought to develop an Adolescent Girl’s Initiative which aims at reducing vulnerabilities and building social and human assets of adolescent girls affected by the Syrian crisis.

The Women’s Protection and Empowerment (WPE) program developed the curriculum, ‘My Safety, My Wellbeing’(MSMW), to equip adolescent girls with key knowledge and skills to help them to reduce, prevent and respond to gender-based violence. 

The curriculum is structured to have two separate age groups (11-13 and 14-18) enrolled in 24 two-hour sessions over the course of 12 weeks. Skills-building sessions address topics such as communication, decision making, confidence and problem solving, each with a specific focus on GBV, early marriage, reproductive health, hygiene, managing stress, relationships with parents, and having healthy relationships.

The course also enables adolescent girls to develop positive coping mechanisms and establish a secure network of friends and supporters which they can draw upon if they encounter GBV or other types of violence. By the end of the course, the girls would have had the opportunity to facilitate a session and develop a group project to be implemented either at a safe space or within their communities. It is envisaged that some of the participants will be able to become mentors and able to facilitate some sessions of the curriculum at a later stage.

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