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TRANSCENDING NORMS

For countless women and girls throughout the Arab Region, Women and Girls Safe Spaces (Safe Spaces) serve as singular lifelines where they can find safety, community, and healing. These spaces offer women and girls unique opportunities to rebuild the social networks they had lost due to humanitarian conflicts or personal trauma, cultivate valuable life skills that create opportunities, and receive professional therapy and support when needed. 

Given the challenging nature of restrictive social norms, there still remain gaps when it comes to ensuring that both the safe spaces themselves and the activities offered therein are gender transformative — that they provide women and girls with ample opportunities and agency to transcend prevailing norms and achieve real self-actualization.  

This resource is part of the UNFPA Arab States Regional Office Knowledge Series, which encompasses various products that share insights and good practices from the field. Building on years of experience in multiple humanitarian settings throughout the region, the information provided in this resource aims to inform organizations managing Safe Spaces in the development of gender transformative approaches that not only address the immediate needs of women and girls but whose impact also extends to shift the preconceptions, stereotypes, and norms that inhibit the evolution of gender dynamics, particularly in communities with deeply ingrained patriarchal attitudes. Recommendations are also provided to the donor community to ensure that such approaches are adequately supported.