Korean Aid Workers Learn to Cope with Gender-Based Violence

Gender and Migration

Seoul – The United Nations estimates suggest that a third of women worldwide have experienced sexual violence at some point during their lives. In crisis settings, where people are often displaced and daily life suffers dislocation, gender-based violence (GBV) is even more commonplace, posing complex human rights and public health challenges for aid workers. 

Displacement, family separation, a lack of livelihood options, collapse of community values and militarization are just some of the elements that contribute to heightened risks of GBV, particularly in camps, according to International Organization for Migration (IOM) emergency specialists training Korean aid workers in Seoul this week. 

The two-day Advanced Workshop on Gender-Based Violence Programming in Crises was jointly organized by IOM and a Korean NGO – Good Neighbors.  A group of 34 humanitarian practitioners took part in the event, which was designed to share information about GBV programming and best practices. Delegates also developed hands-on skills in GBV-sensitive project design, data collection and monitoring. 

In September 2018 IOM launched its first Institutional Framework for Addressing GBV in Crises (GBViC) that details lessons learned and good practices in addressing GBV in IOM crisis operations worldwide. These include major interventions in South Sudan, Bangladesh and Nigeria. 

“Increased awareness of the magnitude and pervasiveness of GBV has led to more interest in GBV-specific programming among Korean aid workers. In light of this, the government recently launched an initiative on “Action with Women and Peace,” which aims to address GBV and assist victims in conflict-affected areas,” said Mihyung Park, Head of IOM’s office in the Republic of Korea (ROK.) 

“This workshop was about helping us to understand how gender factors affect peoples’ lives during crises. It also showed us how to build well-designed GBV response projects in areas including women and girls’ participation, building women and girl friendly spaces, and provision of psychosocial support and health services,” she added. 

Trainers described IOM’s establishment of women and girl-friendly spaces in Bangladesh’s crowded Rohingya refugee camps as an illustration of successful GBV programming. They also discussed referral systems in health and psychosocial services for GBV survivors worldwide. 

The workshop was organized as part of IOM ROK’s capacity-building project for Korean humanitarian actors, funded by USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA.) Since 2015, IOM ROK has organized a wide range of humanitarian trainings. 

For more information, please contact Miah Park, Tel: +82 70 4820 2781, Email: mipark@iom.int or Jumi KIM, Tel: +82 70 4820 0292, Email: jukim@iom.int 

  • Korean aid workers attend IOM training on how to deal with gender-based violence in crises. Photo: IOM

  • Through a role play, participants were enabled to apply their acquired knowledge and skills in a survivor-centered approach as a part of GBV-response projects.