Report: A safe place to shine

Report: A safe place to shine

Creating Opportunities and Raising Voices of Adolescent Girls in Humanitarian Settings

Adolescence is a distinctly challenging and critical time for girls, during which they face immense social barriers that limit them from leading safer, healthier and more self-sufficient lives. Humanitarian crises, which rupture existing key community and state structures such as health care, education and social services, and break up or displace families and communities, render adolescent girls even more vulnerable. Adolescent girls living in crisis-affected communities, including refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), are at increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV), including sexual violence and exploitation, intimate partner violence and early and forced marriage.

GBV is a direct attack on girls’ mental and physical health, and future aspirations and prospects. It has implications on girls’ access to education, participation in society, employment prospects and family life. Although there is a growing body of information on the prevalence of GBV against girls, there is still little research available specific to adolescent girls in humanitarian settings. As a result, there is also a lack of rigorous evidence on effective strategies for protecting adolescent girls in humanitarian settings from GBV and helping them recover.

To address the gap in evidence of what works to promote the health, safety and empowerment of adolescent girls, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has invested in a robust programming and research agenda. As part of this effort, the IRC partnered with Columbia University over a three year period (2014–2017) to develop, implement and evaluate the Creating Opportunities through Mentoring, Parental Involvement and Safe Spaces (COMPASS) program. COMPASS was implemented with:

  • Refugees living in camps on the Sudan/Ethiopia border
  • Conflict-affected communities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and
  • Displaced populations in north-west Pakistan.

This report shares learning from the implementation and evaluation of COMPASS across locations in Ethiopia, DRC and Pakistan. 


Research summaries and systematic reviews
Policy and legislation
Training, education and capacity building
Depression/anxiety/stress-related disorders
Children and adolescents
Families and carers
Humanitarian and conflict health