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Safe Spaces assist women recover from Cyclone Idai

Learnmore Ndarera, leader of a Safe Space in Chimanimani women group talking to other women about the benefits of safe spaces
ActionAid Zimbabwe in partnership with Jekesa Pfungwa and Simukai Child Protection Programme assisted women to recover from the devastating effects of Cyclone Idai through the establishment of Safe Spaces in Chipinge and Chimanimani. These are spaces built specifically for the empowerment of women and girls affected by the Cyclone Idai. Training of women groups on Protection related issues such as Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR), Gender Based Violence (GBV) referral pathways, GBV awareness raising as well as Psychological 1st Aid support were done both in Chimanimani and Chipinge. Other trainings conducted included the Financial literacy trainings, as well as Conservation agriculture trainings also aimed at restoring the communities after Cyclone Idai devastation. Coddie Shiripinda (46) from Gwama Village, Ward 1, Chipinge district is one of the women who benefitted from activities carried out at the safe space in Chipinge. She lost all her property during the Cyclone and she was affected mentally as she kept having flashbacks of the incident. Shiripinda said: “Safe spaces gave comfort to our communities post the Cyclone Idai disaster and offered emotional support especially for us women who were affected the most. I learnt that when you encounter a disaster, if you share with others your problem will be solved or addressed. As women from Chipinge we feel safe and protected in the Safe Space because we are certain that all the secrets we disclose are not said anywhere else.” “We meet as women every week to discuss issues to do with Sexual Reproductive Health Rights, GBV and remind each other of GBV reporting channels which include the use of toll-free lines we should call in case one of us experiences of GBV. This has resulted in a huge decrease in cases of GBV in my community as women are now aware of their rights and are helping in creating awareness on GBV issues to boys and men.” added Shiripinda. The safe spaces have also been a place where women share ideas to sustain themselves and encourage each other to start their own businesses. At least 2617 women and girls recovering from the distressing impact of Cyclone Idai had access to protection services, offered through the Safe Spaces established in Chimanimani and Chipinge. The Safe Spaces allowed women and girls to participate in activities that empower them as well as ensuring that they access critical information on their risks, rights, and needs.