Worldwide people are fleeing their countries of origin because of violence, war, poverty or because of political or religious motivated persecution. In addition to these common factors female refugees face gender-specific reasons for seeking asylum. Among other things, gender-specific reasons can be female genital mutilation, sexual violence, violence in the name of honor or forced marriage. Not only in their countries of origin are women facing the risk to experience gender-specific violence. Also on the refugee route or in camps along the way women and girls are vulnerable to gender-specific violence. Even when they have reached their countries of destination, there is a high risk to become a victim of these forms of violence. Beside this, women refugees also need to overcome women specific obstacles within their integration process.
Refugee women within the German asylum process as well as refugee women who already hold a residence permit are often physically and psychological burdened. This burden stands against a successful integration into Germany society.
In order to successfully integrate in society as a whole, women often need to overcome further gender-specific obstacles. Most of the refugee women come from countries in which a patriarchal understanding of gender roles dominates. This gender-based discrimination leads to social disadvantages. Thus, women for example might have had almost none to any formal education. Hence, refugee women arriving in Germany have restricted access to the labor market. Furthermore refugee women who fled with their children or elderly as well as sick family members are even more reduced in their mobility.
Therefore, most women who have fled to Germany and are seeking protection are often faced with major challenges and should receive particular support adapted to their special needs.
CONNECT is a three year run empowerment project between two women. The project has been started in June 2016 and is financially supported by the “Aktion Mensch”. It pursues the objective to support refugee women who arrived in Berlin, Germany. The project furthermore seeks to accompany the women on their way to successfully integrate into society. The greater goal of the project is to ensure that refugee women are able to live a self-determined and free life in Germany.
On the one hand CONNECT addresses refugee women above the age of 18 now living in Berlin – regardless of their status of residence. On the other hand the project addresses women born in Germany or women who are successfully integrated in Germany and willing to resume a companionship on a voluntary basis for at least one year.
The two women (companions) will have a weekly informal meeting in which the newcomer women are e.g. accompanied when going to public authorities, or are supported by looking for appropriate living space, languages courses, employment and if needed childcare as well as integration into a social network within Berlin. These informal meetings can also be used to do something together outside the German bureaucracy.
The companionships will start in spring 2017. Before this time, the future companions who will accompany the refugee women are going to be trained and sensitized to different and special needs of refugee women. The training includes different topics, which are of importance for the companionship. Among other things these topics include the German asylum law, the different forms of gender-based violence and information on support in cases of gender-based violence, health, childcare and on social network possibilities in Berlin.
The project coordinators are Naïla Chikhi, Anna Hellmann and Rahel Volz.
If you have substantial questions or would like to get involved please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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