Being a fellow of Atlas Corps, the organization which facilitates overseas fellowships for the best of the world’s rising leaders makes me think of sustainable development planning on three levels: the personal level planning in terms of building my own capacity, the community level planning in terms of improving society and professional level planning in terms of gaining more special areas of working experience such as M&E!

I strongly believe that serving at IBM and joining the Corporate Service Corps team on managing different projects that address different social issues in the world will contribute in making a paradigm shift of change in my (sustainable development) plan.

My thoughts of developing capacity and experiences highly meet with IBM CSC philosophy which is the “triple benefits”; in other words, communities have their problems solved, IBMers develop their leadership capacities and the company develops new markets and global leaders. 

In line with community development aspects, IBM contributes in sending IBMers to different regional countries to help in supporting some host organizations in addressing different community issues through the implementation of CSC projects in these countries.

I found GBV as one of the very important topics which is proved to be an addressed social issue under the projects of IBM CSC in different developing countries. I’m going to reflect sort of professional experience about this topic.

Originally, I work for United Nations agency in Palestine, my job is basically in the monitoring and evaluation of the results and impacts of CMHP projects and programs implementation through gathering, standardizing and maintaining data on different structured program using sophisticated databases for internal and external use for M&E and summary reporting purposes. CMHP is a projects-funded program which belongs to UN, it provides psychosocial and mental health services to the end-beneficiaries who are basically Palestinian refugees. For example, one of the most sensitive but important issues CMHP treats is addressing GBV: Gender-based Violence cases in the community and reaching out to help them overcome with their life difficulties. 

Gender based violence is a phenomenon common to all communities in various forms. It is passed from one generation to the next due to social and cultural factors that influence social upbringing. Although violence affects both males and females, the percentage of women affected by it far exceeds the percentage of men.

In view of addressing gender-based violence (GBV) holistically, UN agency adopted a multisectoral approach for GBV Interventions in Humanitarian Settings. Work on addressing GBV has focused on the building of referral systems in the fields of UNRWA operations, including training staff, ensuring that survivors have access to internal as well as external services, and awareness-raising at the community level.

As part of the Agency’s approach to learning, UNRWA worked on the development of a report which reflects on the Agency’s experience in building GBV referral systems. The report documents lessons learned and also offers a reflection on the challenges and promising practices contributing to a wider conversation on addressing GBV in a refugee context based on the multi sectoral approach for GBV interventions where CMHP interventions represent a main part of this approach.

In recent years, GBV has become a major concern for the UN system as a whole. The world over, GBV has been cited by experts and development practitioners as a major obstacle to justice, peace and to ending poverty. UN agency is working to develop a comprehensive, multi-sectoral response to GBV, referral systems for the survivors of GBV which involve staff who have work on detecting and responding to cases of GBV.

GBV undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims. Victims of violence can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death.

UN agency as one of the UN umbrella leads working to further gender equality and women’s empowerment, and to address the physical and emotional consequences of GBV.

Below are some statistics reference to WHO reporting (2013) about GBV index in different countries and regions, where it states that GBV starts early in the lives of women!

It is worth to mention that IBM scope of CSC projects targeting women reflects that in 2016, IBM:

  1. Reached 30 countries with a women and girls focused projects with a contribution value of $15 Million.
  2. supported sectors that serve women through 289 projects (52% of its projects), with 28% of projects that deal with women as clients and beneficiaries.
  3. Contributed with $ 15M for the women and girls focused projects.

I’m proud of being IBM CSC fellow… I’m proud of being UN staff member! Addressing such a sensitive issue and working on solving it through different societal projects’ management of women empowerment is something valuable that both IBM and UN agency do!