The most vulnerable populations in need of protection are women—who are more likely to undergo gender-based violence (GBV)—and children, who are more likely to be targeted for physical or sexual abuse, kidnapping, or have their social and psychosocial needs neglected, as their young minds attempt to cope with the traumas of war.
Protection and Empowerment Program
SRD focusing establishes comprehensive protection services including outreach, case management, psychosocial support (PSS) services, and referral pathways—that both incorporate the community and serve the community through the development and implementation of these services.
Vulnerable community members who have received empowerment sessions—a series of trainings that provide protection knowledge and skills, including training in psychological first aid, psychosocial awareness-raising, and GBV prevention—have included women, some of whom have been GBV survivors in need of psychosocial support.
SRD responds to the protection needs of women and girls through Community Training & Empowerment Centers and Mobile Protection Services. The centers have become a central hub for women interested in education, training, and psychosocial support.
The psychosocial support activities offered at the centers include recreational activities and individual and group support sessions. Recreational activities include painting sessions for young girls and carry a psychosocial component where subject-matters are designed to inspire dialogue on traumatic events. Individual and group support provide sessions in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, developing problem-solving skills, anger management tactics, preventing child marriage, developing leadership skills, and encouraging physical and social activities.
Protection and Empowerment Response in Syria:
With millions of Syrians impacted by the crisis, the protection of the population remains critical. Beyond securing basic amenities and coping with systematic and indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations, protection programs also address other critical issues that jeopardize the safety, health, and well-being of Syrians in the form of child labor and recruitment, gender-based violence (GBV), exploitation, and early marriage.
The most vulnerable of the population includes women and children, persons with disabilities, and the elderly. Initiatives that address early childhood development (ECD), like Ahlan Simsim13 (Welcome Sesame) or the Young Mothers Club14, which provides support services to adolescent girls who have been forced to marry, have proven essential to address both the physical and psychosocial needs. Women and Girls Safe Spaces (WGSS) offer support services, including skills-based trainings to enable self-reliance and self-empowerment.
Initiatives like Adolescent Mother’s Against All Odds15 (AMAL), which includes the Young Mother’s Club (YMC), work to address the unique needs of adolescent girls in crisis. Through targeted interventions, these groups are able to access essential services through referral pathways, including health and case management for gender-based violence. A key component of the program includes curricula aimed at enhancing life skills, self-confidence, and practical measures for staying healthy, such as birth spacing, breastfeeding, and nutrition. Programs like these are integrated across other SRD interventions to ensure a holistic approach to well-being.
Fixed and mobile protection services for GBV ensure that remote communities are able to access these much-needed services. Acceptance of these programs has only been made possible by building trust with communities and a collective effort to address root causes, social norms, and coping mechanisms that have emerged as a result of the crisis.
ECD programs provide vital psychosocial support services to children and families and facilitate child protection measures.