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Meet the Syrian woman shedding light on gender-based violence issues within her community

Hulia Khaled was volunteering with a number of NGOs that support refugee communities in her neighborhood, when several women came to her for support after having been subjected to a form of violence.

Lacking information and experience when it comes to these issues, the Syrian national started looking for awareness sessions on gender-based violence (GBV) so she can offer the needed support and protection for these women.

Her search led her to the Space Spaces for Women and Girls in 10th of Ramadan City, operated by UNFPA, where she attended several sessions on GBV. Hulia would even ask the trainers for the training materials to enable her to study them on her own time and begin shedding light on these issues, on a volunteer basis, among the women in her community.

Her efforts went as far as creating WhatsApp groups, holding discussions with teachers, mothers and other members of her community, until she became one of the community leaders in the 10th of Ramadan City as a result.

In 2020, during the lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Hulia participated in a series of webinars on GBV with the 10th of Ramadan Safe Space.

Today, Hulia herself is a facilitator and trainer for awareness-raising activities against GBV at the Safe Space, and is expanding to address more issues, including reproductive health.

She is responsible for facilitating up to four training sessions a month.

“I am very happy and proud that I have become one of the most important providers of awareness-raising services for refugee women in the 10th of Ramadan City,” Hulia said, “I am grateful for the Safe Spaces through which I learned a lot of information and skills that helped me.”

Hulia came to Egypt in 2012 with her husband and two children. She started working as a teacher in a community school for Syrian children. She was the Focal Point for implementing child protection policies at the school, as she learned child protection policies through online training courses.

Hulia also volunteered with some international organizations working in the 10th of Ramadan City to provide services and assistance to refugees.

To-date UNFPA Egypt is supporting 11 Safe Spaces in seven governorates that are identified to have a high density of refugee, migrant and asylum-seeking communities.

The Safe Spaces, operated with implementing partners such as CARE International and Etijah Youth and Development Consultancy Institute, offer a comprehensive package of gender-based violence prevention, protection and response services, with the support of the Italian Agency for Cooperation Development, the Danish Embassy. These include case management, including psychosocial support, counseling, referrals, recreational and vocational activities.