A Safe Place to Shine
Creating opportunities and raising voices of adolescent girls in humanitarian settings
The IRC partnered with Columbia University over a three year period (2014–2017) to develop, implement and evaluate the Creating Opportunities through Mentoring, Parental Involvement and Safe Spaces (COMPASS) programme, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). COMPASS was implemented with refugees living in camps on the Sudan/Ethiopia border, conflict-affected communities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and displaced populations in north-west Pakistan. COMPASS included the following core interventions:
- Adolescent girls' life skills sessions: weekly discussions with groups of adolescent girls in allocated safe spaces, facilitated by young female mentors.
- Parent/caregiver discussion groups: monthly discussions with parents/caregivers of adolescent girls participating in the programme.
- Service provider support: targeted training and ongoing support to develop knowledge, capacity and skills regarding the specific needs of adolescent girls, and particularly those who have experienced GBV.
An external evaluation, led by Columbia University, was carried out across the three programme locations to assess the effectiveness, feasibility and acceptability of the above programme interventions. The evaluation in each programme location had different objectives and different designs. Methodologies included quantitative and qualitative data collection. Each country's evaluation is described below:
- In Ethiopia, an impact evaluation was carried out to study whether the adolescent girls' life skills sessions conducted as part of COMPASS had an impact on the girls' exposure to gender- based violence (GBV) and their social and health outcomes.
- In DRC, the evaluation sought to assess the additional impact of the parents' group discussions on adolescent girls' exposure to GBV, their social and health outcomes, as well as on the attitudes of parents towards adolescent girls.
- In Pakistan, the evaluation assessed the feasibility and the acceptability of the programme to adolescent girls and parents in their context, and measured changes in girls' social and health outcomes over the course of the programme.
- COMPASS improved adolescent girls' hopes and expectations for the future.
- COMPASS provided girls with a safe place, but it's broader impact on girls' safety was unclear.
- COMPASS helped parents learn how to support and care for their adolescent girls.
- COMPASS increased adolescent girls' knowledge of and access to professional GBV services.
- COMPASS-trained GBV service providers made services more adolescent girl friendly.
- COMPASS proved to be feasible and acceptable in humanitarian settings.