Women, War and Displacement

  • Date: 16/11/2016
  • Author: Jo-Ann Ward

Sotiria Kyriakopoulou is in Dublin on Wednesday 16th November to launch Women, War and Displacement a joint report by members of the Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence (ICGBV). Sotiria is Protection Manager for ActionAid Hellas; her role is focused on the protection of women and the most vulnerable people as part of ActionAid’s response to refugees on Lesvos Island and in Athens.


On Tuesday 15th November Sotiria presented to TD’s, Senators and their representatives in Leinster House. She discussed the situation for women refugees in Lesvos and Athens and how ActionAid is responding to the specific needs of female refugees.

Women, War and Displacement report

The Women, War and Displacement report illustrates the connection between heightened conflict, displacement and increased levels of gender based violence, and argues for a more robust gendered dimension of gender based violence response in the Global Compacts on Migration and Responsibility Sharing for Refugees, to be produced over the next two years.

In addition, case studies drawn from the programmes of ICGBV membership agencies are featured in the document, giving voice to women who have experienced gender based violence as a result of conflict and displacement. You can read the report Women, War and Displacement here.

ICGBV was formed in 2005 and brings together Irish humanitarian and development organisations, Irish Aid and the Irish Defence Forces, in an effort to combat gender based violence.

Why is ActionAid working with women and the most vulnerable?

The increased restrictions on refugee movement in Europe mean people are spending longer periods in overcrowded transit locations. This has led to a progressively deteriorating humanitarian situation with regard to women’s vulnerability to sexual assault and exploitation in overcrowded camps. The issues identified include:

  • An increased risk of gender-based violence linked to the lack of privacy in overcrowded collective shelters
  • Disintegration of family and community networks
  • Insufficient income to meet basic needs
  • Many women have experienced sexual or gender based violence during transit or at their point of origin
  • There are also significant cultural, language, and administrative barriers in accessing services from health services to legal services.

Women Friendly Spaces

ActionAid’s programme provides psycho-social support to women facing trauma as a result of the conflict they fled, their journey and their displacement. In specially designed women friendly spaces, services offered are:

  • A protected environment where women can share their problems and gain respite.
  • Psychological first aid, including individual case management and referral through social workers, psychologists, and interpreters as well as group counselling.
  • Distribution of dignity kits.
  • Referral for medical, legal, and shelter assistance.
  • Social mobilization and resilience building activities including interpretation, information, initiatives to build resilience and help people cope through skill building activities such as language lessons, financial literacy, crafts etc.

About Sotiria Kyriakopoulou

Sotiria is Protection Manager for ActionAid Hellas, her role is focused on the protection of women and the most vulnerable people as part of ActionAid’s response to refugees on Lesvos Island. Sotiria coordinates the ActionAid team of cultural mediators and psychosocial experts in Lesvos and provides them with guidance when required. She facilitates training for the team and intervenes in the most complex cases. She also represents the organisation in the working groups that try to address critical gaps in response.

For the past 10 years, she has been working in settings in Greece and Scotland with vulnerable and marginalised groups of people. Her background is in Psychology and Counselling, helping her to work in a person-centred and respectful manner and by always abiding with the Humanitarian Code of Conduct.

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