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Press Centre (11/2016)

When girls do better we all do better


ŞANLIURFA, 5 November 2016 - In regular circumstances “safe” refers to being not in danger or likely to be harmed, and in the My Life Center it means the absence of trauma, stress, violence or abuse. Unfortunately Gülistan knows from her experience what safe means and its importance. “I feel very safe here. In My Life Center, I can play and express myself freely”- the 12 years old says. She is one of too many children who require a supportive and safe system to hold on after what herself and her family been through on their journey from Syria.

In October 2015, with the support of European Union Trust Fund, UNICEF, together with the Government of Turkey and its partners opened the Girls’ Safe Space named by the children My Life Center- in Süleymaniye (Şanlıurfa). The Center contributes to the self-learning and well-being of all girls, Syrian, Turkish, or other nationalities, with a focus on out-of-school girls. Since October 3.241 children enrolled in the center.

Why girls need a safe space
When an emergency hits children and women require special protection to ensure their safety and well-being. Conflicts significantly impact children’s psychosocial well-being and development.Exposure to violence, loss of parents or family members and lack of access to services can all have immediate and long-term consequences for children, their families and communities.

The children of Syria are at risk of becoming a ‘lost generation’ and the My Life Center plays an important role as a bridge for vulnerable girls’ recovery. In an environment where girls’ movements outside the home were often restricted, they need a space to meet, socialize and fulfill their right to feel physically and emotionally safe.   

Conflicts significantly affect women and children’s movement, and they usually become more isolated. This sometimes happens due to fear of violence, harassment or discriminatory situations. As being the most vulnerable, children and women’s sense of well-being is affected and threatened.

Not only for girls but also for their mothers
Cennet is the smallest member of the My Life Center. 9 months old, she visits the girl’s safe space frequently with her mother and today she is here to watch her big sister’s 23 April Children’s Day dance show. Her mother explains her excitement “I know that my girls feel comfortable here, no one can judge or harm us. I got to spend time with my friends while my elder daughter attends the activities in the Center”. She knows that My Life Center is a safe gathering point for her daughters and it offers girls an opportunity to engage with each other, exchange information, and rebuild community networks and support.

When children and women may be in greater risk of trauma, violence, abuse, discrimination or isolation the My Life Center provides protection and care for them.These girls can participate in a series of youth engagement activities such as leadership trainings, life-skills trainings and peer-to-peer information and support sessions. In addition to providing essential psycho-social support, the “My Life” Center offers Turkish and English language instruction, as well as classes designed to build girls’ self-esteem and confidence such as art, drawing and drama.

With the support of European Union Trust Fund, UNICEF, together with the Government of Turkey and its partners will continue to protect and empower girls to become active and positive agents in their communities.
Because when you invest in a girl, she will not only change her own life, but also most likely change the lives of her family and community.

When girls do better we all do better…

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About European Union Facility for Refugees in Turkey
The EUTF was designed to ensure a more coherent, fast and integrated EU response to the Syria crisis by merging various EU financial instruments and contributions from member states into one single flexible and quick mechanism with a target volume of €1 billion. The Fund is used primarily to address the longer-term needs of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, and to support the host communities and their administrations.

About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. 

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.

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UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org