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  • Sexual & Reproductive Health

    Photo By: The IRC/Gerald Martone

    Community Empowerment

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    In a crisis situation, community members are often best positioned and able to respond to the needs of their peers. During the first days and weeks following an emergency, they are frequently the first responders. Even when a situation stabilizes, community members, civil society leaders and local health workers remain connected to the population and are often best able to access the most vulnerable.

    Empowering health workers, communities and civil society to prepare for and respond to health needs is a priority within the Women’s Refugee Commission’s current work.

    Our Work

    The Women’s Refugee Commission has developed universal information, education and communication (IEC) materials about reproductive health services as outlined in the Minimum Initial Services Package (MISP) for Reproductive Health in Crisis Situations, an international standard of care. The materials can be adapted and used in different countries and contexts.

    • We advocate for the involvement of communities (and specifically women, girls and other vulnerable groups) from the beginning. By involving the most vulnerable populations, more equitable protection is achievable. Read more about our efforts to empower communities and vulnerable populations in Haiti.
    • We are piloting a community-based model of postrape care with partners along the Thai-Burma border to examine whether this type of care is safe and feasible in a humanitarian setting where insecurity and other barriers hinder access to facility-based care in clinics and hospitals.
    • We worked with a local partner in Malakal, South Sudan on a pilot project that trained community members to deliver contraceptives. Involving adolescents and meeting their reproductive health needs was a major priority.
    • We recently joined two coalitions invested in supporting health workers, who are insufficiently trained and protected: Frontline Health Workers Coalition and the Coalition for the Protection of Health Workers, Facilities and Patients in Armed Conflict.
    • We developed and launched Mama: Together for Safe Births in Crises as a professional community of practice for frontline maternal health workers in crisis settings. This platform is designed to increase support and knowledge sharing among maternal health care providers through Facebook and text messaging.