L-R: Elizabeth Greene and Florida A Clarke
medica Liberia (mL) in partnership with medica mondiale e.V with and supported by Comic Relief will jointly strengthen the capacities of three different Sierra Leonean partner organizations to provide response services to survivors.
mL is a feminist organization committed to transforming society and supporting women and girls affected by all forms of violence, while medica mondiale e.V is a women’s rights organization that supports projects and advocates politically for girls and women affected by sexual violence in war zones worldwide. On the other hand, Comic Relief is a charity founded to help disadvantaged people and those affected by famine in Africa, under the project “Strengthening feminist action in Sierra Leone to address sexualized and gender-based violence (s/gbv) against women and girls 2021 – 2023.”
Accordingly, the capacity building training, which will be conducted by expert trainers Elizabeth Greene and Florida A. Clarke, is based on the feminist and survivor-centred Stress- and Trauma-Sensitive Approach (STA) as well as to capacitate them to train relevant public stakeholders and service providers in their work environment.
Many organizations in Sierra Leone offer some kind of psychosocial counseling for s/gbv survivors; however, the partner organizations expressed the dire need for capacity building to ensure survivors receive professional supportive services that respond to their needs and to guarantee access to direct services such as health services, legal advice and psychosocial support.
STA is a low-threshold approach that offers women and girls affected by sexualized violence access to support even within a working environment that has very limited resources. It was developed in close cooperation and based on practical experience with medica mondiale partner organisations from Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Liberia. While being shared in training sessions, it is adapted and further developed in the respective professional and regional contexts.
The Approach aims to ensure that survivors of sexualized and gender-based violence suffering from the consequences of trauma receive competent support based on safety, empowerment and solidarity in individual and group counseling services, in their social environment, with service providers and within institutions.
It is also intended to enable activists and professional organizations and institutions to make their services to survivors’ stress- and trauma-sensitive and at the same time ensure that they remain stable by establishing self-care and staff-care measures.
This approach will contribute to trauma recovery and violence prevention and thus to social change by advocating for the implementation of STA at all levels at which sexualised violence affects and can be prevented.
The basic principles of STA form the basis of every form of practical implementation. They guide action and promote a specific attitude towards people affected by violence and also towards oneself as a supporter.
The beneficiaries of this training in Sierra Leone are: Women Against Violence and Exploitation in Society (WAVES), Choices and Voices Foundation (CVF) and Girl to Girl Empowerment Movement (G2G).
Indirect target beneficiaries include women and girls who will receive access to direct services as well as public and non-public service providers and other stakeholders.
medica Liberia has implemented the STA approach in Liberia since 2006 through direct support to survivors of SGBV, capacity building for SGBV public service actors and local civil society organizations, and organizational development. There is sufficient evidence that this approach works in post-conflict settings and therefore medica mondiale and medica Liberia’s decision to expand this approach to the Mano River Region significantly contributes to addressing the situation of violence against women in the region.