Joint press release
A Memorandum of Cooperation was recently signed by the General Secretariat for Demography and Family Policy and Gender Equality (GSDFPGE) of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and KETHI, the Research Centre for Gender Equality. This is an important step in enhancing collaboration, with the common aim to prevent and respond to gender-based violence as well as to promote the social inclusion and equal treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees, with a focus on women and girls.
The Greek National Action Plan for Gender Equality 2021-2025 focuses on four key priority areas, including preventing and combatting gender-based and domestic violence, equal participation of women in the labour market, equal participation of women in decision-making positions and leadership roles, and gender mainstreaming. The Memorandum will aim to ensure that the needs of refugee women and girls are mainstreamed within the overall national strategy.
“We are working daily to prevent and combat gender-based and domestic violence, with special focus on refugee women and their children. In collaboration with UNHCR we are planning and implementing more actions to combat violence and promote gender equality.
We are building a safety net, where the free SOS line 15900 and our network of structures, are always ready to support every woman in need. More than 1,100 refugee women have sought help at the 43 counselling centres all over our country and our 19 shelters have hosted 418 refugee women and 535 children.
Refugee women are not alone in the fight against violence. We are here to help them stand on their own feet, by providing them with psychosocial support and legal and work counseling” said Ms. Maria Syrengela, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, overseeing the GSDFPGE.
GSDFPGE and UNHCR currently co-chair the National Gender-Based Violence Working Group, which provides a forum for collaboration and coordination between all concerned actors. Much progress has already been made in the past year, including the development of a services mapping tool which serves as a resource for those actors providing services to asylum-seekers and refugees.
“Sadly, almost one in three women throughout the world have experienced sexual or physical violence at least once in their lives. Almost half of asylum-seekers and refugees globally are women and girls. In 2021, UNHCR and partners received 670 reports of incidents of gender-based violence against refugees and asylum-seekers in Greece alone. We must take firm action and work together with the Greek authorities to ensure that they are included in all national actions to prevent all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and support survivors” said Maria Clara Martin, UNHCR Representative in Greece.
“Gender violence has tragic consequences for women’s and girls’ safety and is a clear violation of human rights. This cooperation promotes managing these incidents for refugee populations and supports the empowerment of female victims of gender violence and their social integration” added Ms. Athanasia Xepapadakou, President of KETHI.
Integration and self-reliance are key priorities for refugee women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence. Further efforts will be made to support their integration through the provision of employment opportunities. This is particularly important for those in safe shelters, so that they are able to rely on themselves and are not forced to return to situations of abuse.