On Monday February 24th, IARS held its long anticipated training on Gender Sensitivity in the Asylum Process at the leading human rights barristers’ premises, Matrix Chambers. Refugee and asylum-seeking women, who were trained as community researchers and supported by IARS, launched their awareness raising programme for professionals and services providers.

This user-led training focused on the impact of gender-related violence on refugee and asylum-seeking women, and the need for a gender-sensitive treatment of this group. The session was a culmination of research evidence which has been gathered for the three year Comic Relief project, Abused No More. IARS Research and Policy coordinator, Dr Natalia Paszkiewicz supported the women to develop a training programme for practitioners who work with this particularly vulnerable group.

Dr Natalia Paszkiewicz said: ‘What is unique about our evidence-based programme is that refugee and asylum-seeking women are directly involved in design and delivery of the training. The women are experts on the issues that affect them, and the project gives them an opportunity to have their voices heard. On the other hand, the practitioners have a chance to listen and to learn from a group that is arguably one of the most marginalised in the British society.”

The event was a spectacular success, which benefited from the lived experiences of women involved in the project.

One participant said:  “It was very good to speak honestly with the asylum seeking women and hear their views”.

Organisations attending the event included Refugee Council, UNHCR and NHS. Furthermore, key issues discussed during the training covered, different forms of gender-related persecution, communication techniques in supporting women affected by gender-based violence, and an overview of asylum procedure in the UK.

Another event attendee stated: “I feel that the session equipped me with more insight into the complex needs of asylum-seeking and refugee women.”

Looking forwards, IARS will be delivering a series of training programmes dedicated to awareness of gender sensitivity issues in a professional setting. The next session will be delivered during the month of April, alongside a fundraising event, which will be run by women involved in the Abused No More project, to support this important initiative.