Girl effect: creating safe spaces for girls

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There is no one-size-fits-all approach to developing effective programmes for girls, but this guide to creating safe spaces gives a broad overview of the different areas that practitioners need to cover and inspiration as to how to cover them.

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Girl effect: creating safe spaces for girls

  1. 1. The essentialguide tosafe-spaceprogrammesfor girls
  2. 2. 3. Why safe spaces?4. Essential ingredients of a safe space for girls5. How to make a safe space8. What kinds of people are needed to run a safe-spacegroup?10. WHO ARE THE RIGHT ROLE MODELS?13. WHAT PLACES CAN BE SAFE SPACES?16. How to involve girls in the process18. Troubleshooting: What can go wrong?21. How you’ll know if you’ve got it right23. Case study: ADE Brasil26. Case study: Ishaka CARE Burundi29. Checklist of safe-space essentials30. Your feedbackcontents2 | girleffect.org
  3. 3. Why safe spaces?33 | girleffect.orgSafe spaces are where girls go for inspiration, confidence and skills. This guide tells you how to make thathappen – take it, share it, use it.Safe spaces are all about relationships. They are places where girls go to make connections, learn fromrole models, access services and become decision-makers. Girls in poverty often have few friends, littlefree time and no power. Safe spaces are places they can go to where they can meet people to help buildthe relationships and find the inspiration, confidence and skills to change that.3 | girleffect.org
  4. 4. ESSENTIALINGREDIENTS OFA SAFE SPACE Girls only: Create a place and time for girls to meet without men andboys present. Girl ownership: Girls must own the content, the activities, the meetingtimes and the group rules. Role models: Trusted female leaders with empathy, credibility with girls,and who care to commit. Safe-space mentors help girls to become thebest they can be, and ‘think big’ about their futures. Friendship: The opportunity to create connections with other girls andbuild trusted support networks. Community buy-in: Several champions in the wider community need tosupport girls and their safe spaces to achieve all of this.4 | girleffect.org
  5. 5. HOW TO MAKEA SAFE SPACE5 | girleffect.orgSafety is both an emotional and a physical concept.55 | girleffect.org
  6. 6. ensuring girls’emotional safetyCreate a space where: Girls can express themselves without judgment. The group focus shouldbe on solving problems, not judging them. Girls can take the lead to make it fun, with games, songs and chants. Structures for joint achievement enable girls to reach common goalstogether and build trust in each other. Girls build ground rules that can be revisited at every meeting.6 | girleffect.org
  7. 7. ensurING girls’physical safety Have conversations with the community to sanction girls’ safe participation. Hold meetings at times when girls can be out and about. Choose a place where girls are allowed to go and where they will be freefrom harassment. Ensure girls can get there safely: By private transport, walking in pairs etc. Brand the space as ‘girl only’ through community contracts, banners,posters, flags, T-shirts and savings lock boxes. Make sure the skills and assets girls acquire don’t put them at risk. Newideas and information can upset traditional views on what girls need to beable to do or know. Desirable commodities such as mobile phones can putgirls at risk of violence. Be aware of key danger moments for girls. Festivals, holidays and sportsevents are often times when girls are most at risk. Natural disasters alsoleave girls vulnerable to violence and exploitation.7 | girleffect.org
  8. 8. WHAT KINDS OFPEOPLE ARENEEDED TO RUNA SAFE-SPACEGROUP?88 | girleffect.org8 | girleffect.org
  9. 9. 1. Mentor or role model: Cares enough about girls to be thereto help them become the best they can be. Their definingcharacteristics are empathy, honesty, credibility and a continuingcommitment to care.2. Group leader or manager: Convenes groups, managesgroup dynamics, keeps agendas, organises meetings etc.Their defining characteristics are organisation, credibility andcommitment.3. Content deliverers: Share curriculum and information with girls.Their defining characteristics are familiarity and credibility withthe content, as well as skills in participatory training to engagegirls in sessions.4. Facilitators: Deliver information, games and activities to maximiselearning and behaviour change. Their defining characteristicsare group empathy, group management, listening and creativefacilitation skills.5. Representative of NGO, government etc: Assures consistencyand quality of the programme’s content and activities, managesreporting and monitoring, and adapts tools/materials from theimplementers and communicates them to the girl group. Theirdefining characteristics are organisation, attention to detail andcredibility with adult professionals.NB. One person may perform more than one of these roles, howeverit is extremely rare to find one person with the skills and time toperform all of them. For the purpose of building strong relationships,the mentor or role model is the most important.A girls’ safe space, at the core, is a place she can go to for connection and inspiration. An effective way to create this emotionalcloseness is through a formal safe-space group that brings girls together with a trusted adult or peer at a specific place and time.Roles needed to run an ideal safe-space group: 9 | girleffect.org
  10. 10. 1010 | girleffect.orgReal connections with girls are at the heart of safespaces, so a role model’s human characteristics –empathy, commitment and credibility with girls – aremore important than her facilitation skills or herdemographics. If necessary, other adult resources canbe brought in to manage the logistics.Here are some of the different options:WHO ARE THE RIGHTROLE MODELS?10 | girleffect.org
  11. 11. TYPE OF ROLE MODEL PROS CONS When are they the right CHoice?Near peers ⊲ Can relate to girls⊲ Girls can view them asslightly cooler versions ofthemselves⊲ Can be paid⊲ May have little formal education⊲ May not have access to resources⊲ May have limited vision of/exposure to different life paths forgirls⊲ When building a leadership cadre of girls is apriority⊲ When girls are at serious risk every day andneed a trusted local mentor to help in case ofemergencyUniversity students ⊲ Shows girls what successlooks like⊲ Can be paid⊲ Often not from girls’ owncommunity⊲ May present unrealistic vision ofthe future⊲ Not available in community foremergencies⊲ When creating a new vision for the future is apriority⊲ When delivering highly technical contentGroup members/peers ⊲ Elected by the group, whichlends them legitimacy⊲ From the same community⊲ Can receive training fromprogramme staff⊲ Little formal education⊲ Peer leadership may createconflict⊲ When trying to reach large numbers of girlswithout significant resources for mentorrecruitmentWHO ARE THE RIGHT ROLE MODELS?11 | girleffect.org
  12. 12. TYPE OF ROLE MODEL PROS CONS When are they the right choice?Programme staff ⊲ Can be paid⊲ Easy to train and supervise⊲ May be didactic ⊲ When time and budget are limited⊲ When building girls’ leadership capabilities isless importantLocal professionals ⊲ Can create a new vision ofsuccess for girls⊲ May have little formal training onhow to engage with girls, managegroups or minimise adolescentgirls’ risks⊲ Can see girls as staffers⊲ When creating a new vision for the future is apriority⊲ When delivering employability or economiccontentTeachers ⊲ Vetted community member⊲ Experience working with girls⊲ Can be paid⊲ Authority figure⊲ May be punitive or didactic⊲ When working through schools⊲ When trusted adults are requiredWHO ARE THE RIGHT ROLE MODELS?12 | girleffect.org
  13. 13. 1313 | girleffect.orgThere is no one-size-fits-all solution to this. There are arange of public places that could be appropriate, and findingthe right one will depend on the specific circumstances inwhich you’re operating. Here are some to consider:What places can besafe spaces?13 | girleffect.org
  14. 14. LOCATION PROS CONSSchools ⊲ Regularly available to girls ⊲ Formal, which could be intimidating for girls who do notnormally attend schoolCommunity centres ⊲ Formalises girls’ access to the community centres ⊲ Could be uninspiring⊲ May not be set up for girls⊲ May have men and boys around⊲ May need community negotiation to make girl-only timesYouth centres ⊲ Formalises girls’ access to youth centres ⊲ Could be uninspiring⊲ Can be unsafe for girls⊲ Usually used by boys⊲ May need community negotiation to create girl-only timesMosques and churches ⊲ Respected place for girls to meet ⊲ May reinforce traditional gender normsWHAT PLACES CAN BE SAFE SPACES?14 | girleffect.org
  15. 15. LOCATION PROS CONSUnder a tree(open-air spaces)⊲ Available⊲ Free⊲ Girl groups are very visible⊲ Need back up for bad weather⊲ Doesn’t ensure access to community entitlements andtherefore could reinforce girls’ exclusionHomes of respectedcommunity members⊲ Respected places for girls to meet ⊲ May reinforce traditional gender normsWHAT PLACES CAN BE SAFE SPACES?15 | girleffect.org
  16. 16. 1616 | girleffect.orgHow to involvegirls in theprocess16 | girleffect.org
  17. 17. HOW TO INVOLVE GIRLS INTHE PROCESSSAFETY-SCAPINGSafety-scaping is a powerful tool to determine when and where girls aremost safe. Girls map their community (either using drawings or GPS),marking which times and places are safe and which aren’t.SAFETY PLANSCreating a safety plan is an important preventative tool that puts girls incharge of their own safety. When creating a safety plan, girls are asked toidentify when they are most safe and most at risk; they are then advisedhow to stay safe during risky times and who to go to for help.The best way to figure out where to create a safe space, or who to use asrole models, is to co-design with the girls. Here are a couple of ways to makesure their physical and emotional needs are embedded in the programmefrom the outset.17 | girleffect.org
  18. 18. 1818 | girleffect.orgTROUBLESHOOTING:WHAT CAN GOWRONG?18 | girleffect.org
  19. 19. TROUBLESHOOTING:WHAT CAN GO WRONG?It’s not fun or valuableSometimes, safe-space programmes can become another school or just anothertraining programme – especially if fun, play and being a teenager aren’t built infrom the beginning.Role models don’t show upRole models often have a ton of energy for the first few months of a project butas things get routine, they can get bored. There is also a danger that other, betteropportunities can pull them away.Role models are unpaidRole models are often asked to do a lot: They might be the only person to bringgirls together, share information, maintain good group dynamics and keep records.They need to be paid to show that they are valued and to build professionalism.Girls don’t see clubs as safe spacesSometimes the existence of the safe space isn’t effectively communicated and girlsdon’t know that it is for them. Also, there is the possibility they don’t trust the othergirls who attend.19 | girleffect.org
  20. 20. Groups include mothers, men or boysGirls don’t usually feel comfortable if their mums, men or boys join the group.However, they do want to be able to share what they learn with their families –especially their mums.The time doesn’t work for girlsGirls have a hard time meeting during school hours or when they need to be atchurch, at home or doing chores. Meeting times must be designed and set by girls.Parents and community leaders don’t get itWhen parents know what their daughters are doing and believe it’s a good use oftime, girls are more likely to be allowed to join. Otherwise, they may be kept awayfrom programmes because parents and community leaders don’t think it’s safeor valuable.It’s not safe to get to and from the spaceGirls need to be safe on their way to and from their club meetings, otherwise theywon’t want to come.20 | girleffect.org
  21. 21. 2121 | girleffect.orgHow you’ll knowif you’ve got itright21 | girleffect.org
  22. 22. HOW YOU’LL KNOW IF YOU’VE GOT IT RIGHTThrough all of this, girls build social capital, which means they are:girls BUILD RESILIENCE, DEVELOPING THECONFIDENCE TO SOLVE PROBLEMSGIRLS CREATE SOCIAL CONNECTIONS, A SENSE OFBELONGING AND AN EMOTIONAL SUPPOrt NETWORKROLE MODELS INSPIRE GIRLS TO IMAGINE A NEWVISION FOR THEiR FUTURESGIRLS BECOME DECISION-MAKErS IN THEIR COMMUNITIESGIRLS DEVELOP HEALTH, FINANCIAL AND LIFE SKILLS TONEGOTIATE THEiR ADOLESCENCE AND learn how to getBETTER ACCESS to HEALTH AND FINANCIAL SERVICESLEss Likely to experience violenceLess likely to get married youngmore likely to delay sexual activitymore likely to have control of theirown financial DESTINYmore likely to be able to contribute totheir community’s economy22 | girleffect.org
  23. 23. Case study:ADE Brasil: Programa Para O FuturaLocation Recife, an urban tech centre in north-eastern Brazil.Programme goals Economic empowerment (employability/job skills and professional networks).Reproductive health (knowledge and gender awareness).Safe space members Girls aged 16-24.Mentorship model eMentoring, with local female and male professionals, using online chat or email one hour per week.Programme staff teach girls economic and health content.Place Professional spaces, such as university classrooms, business conference rooms or offices.Time and dosage Meet programme staff for training three times per week over six months, half a day at a time.One hour per week on computers for eMentoring.23 | girleffect.org
  24. 24. How do girls own thecontent?Identify professional pathways they’d like to learn more about (eg HR, IT, communications, nursing); learning projects based aroundgirls’ interests.Girls per mentor? 1:1 eMentoring (One girl per eMentor; eMentors may have many mentees).25-30 girls per safe-space group, with three staff trainers.How are communitiesengaged?Parent meetings, two to four times per six-month learning cycle.Businesses: Employees volunteer as eMentors and girls visit companies.Reproductive health (knowledge and gender awareness).How to make it safe? Girl-only space. ADE uses a social worker to build emotional resilience and trust among girls. Cash deposited into a savingsaccount for safe transport.Impact on girls Improved tech and employability skills, stronger professional networks, increased earnings, increased education, improved self-perception. 45% reported career enhancement by the end of the programme compared with 14% at the start.Case study:ADE Brasil: Programa Para O Futura24 | girleffect.org
  25. 25. Case study:ADE Brasil: Programa Para O FuturaMentorshipeMentoring with working professionals is helpful in connecting girlsand mentors from different social classes because it removes visualcues of social differences. It builds girls’ professional networks,improves their written communication and expands their vision forthe future.Girl profilesOlder girls with some education (aged 18-22) are in the best positionto identify their professional pathways and immediately apply theskills learned in PPF. However, they also have more competition fortheir time (eg childcare, household responsibilities). Younger girls(aged 15-17) can spend more time on the programme, but haven’tyet defined their professional interests and are largely still in school.For younger girls, it has become clear that PPF needs more focus onbasic literacy and social-asset building activities.LocationHolding training in professional settings inspires girls and givesthem a fresh vision of what they can become. It creates a sense ofentitlement to community resources. Professional settings shouldbe used when the aim of the programme is to prepare girls for theformal workforce.Dosage1:1 eMentoring is really productive for girls and manageable formentors, but can be extremely challenging for the implementer toco-ordinate. It needs strong co-ordination, management andpartnership with larger companies.KEY LESSONS25 | girleffect.org
  26. 26. Case study:Ishaka CARE BurundiLocation Bujumbura (urban) and Ghitega (rural).Programme goals Group saving and lending (economic empowerment) – improve girls’ earning power through income-generating activities,savings and financial literacy.Social/agency empowerment – connections and networks, mentoring, group activities and human rights training.Reproductive health – improving knowledge and attitude to engender behaviour change. Knowledge and gender awareness.Safe space members Girls aged 14-22.Mentorship model Girls select their trainers (who also act as mentors).Place Girls meet under a tree, in members’ houses, the local school, church and in a respected community household.Time and dosage Girls meet once a week (for two hours on average) for nine months. Quick surveys show 90% of girls continued to meet in theirgroups on their own, without programme support.26 | girleffect.org
  27. 27. Case study:Ishaka CARE BurundiHow do girls own thecontent?Mentors selected by the girls are trained for a week (for about 35 hours). Mentors/trainers also are provided with a refresher courseevery three months.Girls per mentor? Two mentors for every 10-20 girls.How are communitiesengaged?Communities support group activities in their villages and provide meeting places. Adult change agents were also made part ofthe programme.How to make it safe? Girl-only space with very strict ground rules. Adult change agents work as ambassadors of girls and provide support as needed.Impact on girls Improved earnings potential, savings, confidence and social capital. Many girls have abandoned transactional sex, and sexual andreproductive health has significantly improved. Girls have been truly re-evaluated by their community. There was a 78% increase inthe use of contraception and a 58% reduction in the number of girls resorting to prostitution to support their needs. 82% reportedincreased control over their money.27 | girleffect.org
  28. 28. Case study:Ishaka CARE BurundiGirls’ leadershipGirls selecting/electing the mentors/trainers makes them moreaccountable to the participants. Members also determine theirown rules and decisions. They democratically elect their ownmanagement team from the group and these roles rotate amongmembers. These arrangements are important for developing girls’leadership skills and improving their civic participation.Girl profilesGroup saving and lending is best suited to rural girls and those out ofschool. In-school girls and urban girls benefitted least.LocationIn rural areas the safe space was mostly under a tree. This wasparticularly challenging during the rainy season. Girls have identifieda plan B to relocate to a house or church when it rains. It isrecommended that girls have a plan A and plan B.DosageThe Group Saving and Lending model is well developed. Groups gothrough three phases of initiation, maturation and graduation, whichtakes up to 12 months. Two hours a week for nine months was theideal amount of time for girls to graduate and continue activities ontheir own.KEY LESSONS28 | girleffect.org
  29. 29. Self-assessment questions Questions for the girlsIs it girls only?Did girls help design it?Do girls have some ownership of it?Do they get exposed to role models?Do the girls feel both emotionally and physically safe?Is the safe space in the right place?Is it fun?Do the girls feel comfortable expressing themselves openly?Are the girls able to create friendships?Has the wider community bought into the programme?Checklist of safe-space essentials10 questions to assess if your safe-spaces programme is on the right track.29 | girleffect.org
  30. 30. YOUR FEEDBACKThis guide is intended as a starting point for creating a safe-spacesprogramme. We want to know how you’ve used this guide, what you’ve learntand what you think could be added to make it more comprehensive.We also want to know more about your safe-spaces programmes for girls:What they deliver, how you designed them and what the impact has been.Email us at info@girleffect.org30 | girleffect.org
  31. 31. GIRLS ARE THE MOST POWERFULFORCE FOR CHANGE ON THE PLANET.GET INSPIRATION AND TOOLSTO UNLEASH THE GIRL EFFECT ATGIRLEFFECT.ORG

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