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UK's Gaashaan Initiative for Somali Women and Girls

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In a powerful move ahead of International Women's Day, the UK has launched the Gaashaan project, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at addressing the consequences of conflict and climate shocks on Somali women and girls


Named Gaashaan, meaning "shield" in Somali, the project is a manifestation of the UK's commitment to supporting survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) over the next four years, with an allocated fund of £15 million.


Empowering Communities in the Face of Challenges


The Gaashaan project, unveiled by Sir Philip Barton, the UK's top diplomat, along with British Ambassador to Somalia, Mike Nithavrianakis, and Somali Minister for Women, Human Rights, and Development, Amina Hassan Ali, is set to make a tangible impact on the lives of Somali women and girls. 


The initiative aims to empower communities and women's rights organisations while improving access to safety services for over 117,000 individuals.

The project, which will run for five years, is strategically designed to respond to the multifaceted challenges posed by climate change, conflict, and gender-based violence in Somalia. In the initial six months, Gaashaan will address the impacts of El Niño, focusing on reaching around 5,000 women and children directly affected by severe flooding in the region. 


The project's comprehensive strategy includes mainstreaming gender equality throughout all programming and prioritizing the most marginalized and vulnerable populations. 


To ensure the success of Gaashaan, a consortium of six partners will collaborate on its delivery. Led by Save the Children, the consortium includes the International Rescue Committee, CARE International, and four National NGOs. This collaborative effort underscores the commitment to a holistic and sustainable approach.


UK-Somalia Development Partnership


The Gaashaan project aligns with the broader UK-Somalia development partnership. Gender equality is at the forefront of this partnership, with a commitment to mainstream it across all programming. 


In the previous financial year, the UK supported nearly one million outpatient appointments in health facilities, emphasizing the inclusion of new and expectant mothers and children. Over 39,000 women and girls received sexual and reproductive health services and 26,000 girls gained access to basic education, along with support for victims of gender-based violence.


Addressing Conflict-Related Sexual Violence


Somalia, grappling with prolonged conflict and climatic shocks, has witnessed an alarming increase in conflict-related sexual violence, as reported by the United Nations in 2021. Non-state actors, government forces, and clan militias have all contributed to this distressing trend. 


The Gaashaan project, in tandem with the World Health Organization, is poised to respond to this crisis, emphasizing the prevention and elimination of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The health sector, which is vital to this task, aims to decrease the occurrence of SGBV throughout Somalia by collaborating with the federal and state governments to provide crucial to survivors.


In the face of daunting challenges, the Gaashaan project emerges as a source of optimism, signaling the UK's commitment to supporting the most vulnerable in Somalia and fostering lasting change in the lives of women and girls affected by conflict and climate shocks.

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