New global directory offers lifeline for women and girls experiencing violence – World

Launched this month, the Lila.help website directory lists accurate, vetted and safe local emergency service helplines and information for more than 90 countries, and aims to expand to all countries and territories. The website was developed by the Global Network of Women’s Shelters (GNWS) with financial and technical support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and UN Women.

“In this digital age, I can find almost anything online anywhere in the world, but if I’m a victim of sexual abuse or assault, it’s incredibly difficult to find reliable, local information that I can trust. turn to me for help,” says Cindy Southworth, a founding member and current advisor to GNWS. “For years, there was hardly any working global directory, so we developed one, and called it Lila.help.”

Lila.help is easily accessible to everyone – survivor, family or friends, service providers, embassy or tourism staff or anyone looking to find help.

“Lila.help includes national helplines, local NGO shelters and crisis centers, as local advocates often know the specific details of the community best. For example, a favorite detective who treats survivors with respect or a judge who only grants protection orders on certain days of the week in a small town Having direct access to national helplines and local NGOs allows women to make an informed decision about where to quickly get the specific services they need,” says Southworth.

A global essential service

Since 20209, GNWS and UN Women have used their global networks to identify qualified and respected national helplines, local shelters and crisis centers for women experiencing or at risk of violence around the world.

“Over 60 of our offices have provided support services information for this directory. Real-time support for survivors is essential, especially given the near-global increase in the number of women calling helplines and reporting abuse during the COVID-19 crisis,” says Kalliope Mingeirou, Chief Ending Violence against Women section at UN Women. .

In the past, one of the problems faced by many websites with regional or global coverage was that the information provided was often inaccurate, outdated or not specific enough. Lila.help includes features to address these issues, such as the ability for service providers to enter their own information, including languages ​​offered, accessibility information about the center and children’s services. Lila.help also requests frequent updates from service providers to ensure accuracy.

“They can also use their own words to describe culturally specific services designed to meet the complex needs of women in all their diversity, such as documented and undocumented migrant women, sex workers and LGBTQIA+ people,” says Southworth.

All partners listed on the website are run by feminist organizations, provide quality survivor-centered services, and do no harm to survivors.

Lila.help users can contact helplines, shelters and crisis centers via chat, text or email (if possible), in addition to calling directly by phone, which allows users to contact the audience without fear that their conversation will be overheard. An exit button automatically switches to another web page to protect women from further harm if an attacker is nearby.

Women in the lead

The information collected through Lila.help will provide an evidence base to demand accountability from governments for the universal provision of quality emergency services. At the same time, GNWS fosters a global community of NGO shelters that provide emergency services when government support is lacking.

“In Latin America, many countries withdraw public funds, which makes it difficult for women to operate emergency services. In this environment, we consider that the services provided by NGOs are the most reliable way to guarantee women access to immediate help,” says Margarita Guille, coordinator of the Inter-American Network of Women’s Shelters, a GNWS regional partner. “Through a regional community of shelters, we help each other grow together.”

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit Latin American countries hard, many of which already had high rates of violence against women and femicide. “Many NGOs had lost funds to run emergency services just as demand was increasing dramatically. Many NGO leaders had also lost their families and friends to the increase in violence against women and COVID-19 women during this new health crisis,” says Guille.

As part of the multi-year EU-UN Spotlight initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls, UN Women supported the Inter-American Network of Women’s Shelters to provide mentorship programs for women shelter leaders from 18 countries. At the end of the program, 98% of shelter managers reported feeling confident in their personal ability to seek out resources to continue providing emergency services during the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to 10% at the start of the program.

“Investing in women leaders and service providers is critical because they can influence the entire team to deliver quality emergency care,” says Guille. “Violence affects many women around the world. But if women can quickly find information on where to seek help and receive specialist care from trusted service providers, it can be a game-changer to minimize the consequences. violence.”

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