Women’s shelter in 6th of October opens after survivor-centred renovation

Date: Tuesday, December 10, 2019

A group picture during the 6th of October Women’s Shelter opening in Giza on 10 December featuring (left to right) General Manal Atef, Head of the Violence against Women Unit at the Ministry of Interior; Magda Mahmoud, Rapporteur of National Council for Women (NCW) Giza Branch; Dr. Nevine Al-Kabbaj, Deputy Minister of Social Solidarity; Dr. Maya Morsy, President of NCW; Rebecca Latorraca, USAID/Egypt Deputy Mission Director, Gielan ElMessiri, UN Women Head of Office, a.i. (Photo Credit: UN Women/ Alex Maher)
A group picture during the 6th of October Women’s Shelter opening in Giza on 10 December featuring (left to right) General Manal Atef, Head of the Violence against Women Unit at the Ministry of Interior; Magda Mahmoud, Rapporteur of National Council for Women (NCW) Giza Branch; Dr. Nevine Al-Kabbaj, Deputy Minister of Social Solidarity; Dr. Maya Morsy, President of NCW; Rebecca Latorraca, USAID/Egypt Deputy Mission Director, Gielan ElMessiri, UN Women Head of Office, a.i. (Photo Credit: UN Women/ Alex Maher)

Giza, 10 December 2019 –The women’s shelter in 6th of October City, Giza Governorate, was officially inaugurated today after the completion of a comprehensive, survivor-centred[1] redesign and physical upgrade. The approach actively involved the shelter’s users (women survivors of violence and staff) in the design process, ensuring privacy and confidentiality for the survivors of violence and providing holistic services in response to their needs. As a result, women and their children now have a safe space that ensures greater confidentiality and allows them to benefit from more social and economic activities. The shelter is also now accessible to women with physical disabilities. The shelter was renovated through a partnership between the Ministry of Social Solidarity, UN Women and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Three other shelters have been upgraded as well in Alexandria, Minya and Daqahliya.

The inauguration was attended by Dr. Nevine Al-Kabbaj, Deputy Minister of Social Solidarity; Dr. Maya Morsy, President of The National Council for Women; Hend Ahmed Mohamed, Deputy Governor of Giza; Major General Manal Atef, Head of Violence against Women Unit at the Ministry of Interior; Mr.Mohamed Khallaf, Head of the International Cooperation Department at the Public Prosecution Office; Ms.Rebecca Latorraca, Deputy Mission Director for United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Egypt;  and Ms.Gielan ElMessiri, UN Women Head of Office, a.i. in addition to representatives of local women’s rights organizations. The inauguration also witnessed the announcement of the new by-laws for women’s shelters which adopts a human rights-based approach and the principles of women’s empowerment of women, ensuring women’s recovery and independence to promote women and girls’ access to quality care and support.

Dr. Morsy praised the work of the Ministry of Social Solidarity under the leadership of Minister Ghada Waly regarding the protection and empowerment of women, highlighting  that women’s shelters have a significant role in protecting women survivors of violence and providing them with the support they need, through raising their legal awareness and helping them overcome the psychological and social consequences of the violence they have been subjected to. During the shelter tour, Dr. Morsy expressed her great admiration of the renovations and infrastructure development.

In her speech, Dr. Nevin Al-Kabbaj announced the new by-laws for women’s shelters, whereby women with disabilities and survivors of human trafficking will be among the groups that can be hosted by the shelters. She added that the hosting period has been extended from three to six months and is renewable only for critical cases. Other by-laws indicate that shelters will now allow boys up to the age of 12 to stay in the shelters with their mothers, whereas beforehand only boys up to the age of 10 were allowed. This will ensure that boys receive the care and comfort they need from their mothers. Dr.Kabbaj also emphasized that the new by-laws incorporated a community-based monitoring perspective, where volunteers will be appointed to monitor and evaluate the quality of service in all institutions.

“To ensure a comprehensive intervention, we focused on different aspects that are needed to empower women to regain control of their lives, including the re-design of the shelter to ensure privacy and confidentiality for the survivors of violence, capacity development of shelter staff to ensure they are well-equipped to provide women with all the services they need to achieve a full and strong recovery, such as counselling and case management services, and economic empowerment interventions so survivors can be financially independent and have a stable income when they leave the shelter,” stated ElMessiri.

ElMessiri also congratulated Minister Ghada Wali on her new position as Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and wished her the best of luck serving people around the world.

Ms. Hend Mohamed, Deputy Governor of Giza, stated that women are the backbone of the family and that the Giza Governorate prioritizes supporting women and addressing their problems. As a result, the Giza Governorate has adopted UN Women’s “Safe Cities Free of Violence against Women and Girls” initiative, which resulted in the renovation of Zenein Market in Boulaq Al-Daqroor and the establishment of a Women Friendly Space for Women and Girls in Imbaba. She added that supporting the women shelters is part of empowering women and providing them with safe spaces, and therefore the governorate is interested in coordinating with the Ministry of Social Solidarity to provide support to the shelters, which are equipped to host not only women from Giza but from different governorates as well.

Major General Atef expressed her content for the development of the shelter and emphasized that the ministry is interested in reaching all women survivors of violence. She added that the Ministry of Interior has prioritized women within its plans, policies and strategy, and therefore have created specialized units for women’s issues.

The shelter’s physical upgrade featured a complete redesign to provide more spacious rooms with more privacy. This went hand-in-hand with capacity enhancements for shelter staff to avail better-quality responses, including legal, psychosocial and economic empowerment services.

The shelter’s role goes beyond the provision of emergency safe accommodation and protection services, as it offers a wide range of outreach services and awareness-raising activities for the community on women’s rights and how to access them, and on how to apply positive parenting to raise their children. The shelter also provides services, including basic needs (food, shelter and health care services), assisting women and girls to access economic opportunities and affordable housing, counseling, legal advice and legal aid.

The women’s shelter renovation was completed under the USAID-funded Cairo Safe City and Safe Pubic Spaces programme, one of the founding programmes of UN Women’s Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Flagship Initiative.

The shelter’s inauguration took place within the annual international 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which runs from 25 November (the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day). The campaign calls for global action to increase awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts and share of knowledge and innovations.

[1] A survivor-centred approach means that all those who are engaged in violence against women programming prioritize the rights, needs, and wishes of the survivor. The survivor has a right to:

  • be treated with dignity and respect instead of being exposed to victim-blaming attitudes.
  • choose the course of action in dealing with the violence instead of feeling powerless.
  • privacy and confidentiality instead of exposure.
  • non-discrimination instead of discrimination based on gender, age, race/ ethnicity, ability, HIV status or any other characteristic.
  • receive comprehensive information to help her make her own decision instead of being told what to do.

For more information, please contact Maha Rateb; Communication and Advocacy Analyst at maha.rateb@unwomen.org

 

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