The Gender Resilience Initiative (GRI) is a Servant Forge supported project, implemented through the Kenyan NGO New Scent Center International. GRI seeks to uncover the innate resiliency in women who have suffered from gender-based violence. Besides of physical, emotional, and psychosocial trauma faced from GBV, women are often disadvantaged economically. In order to counteract these struggles, GRI responds by creating women’s support groups that seek to build capacity and facilitate healing through counseling, legal advice, economic empowerment, and health/nutrition promotion. These focused support groups enable women to live productive and meaningful lives.
The goal of GRI is to be a vessel of God’s therapeutic touch to survivors of GBV—specifically, hurting women who join recovery support groups—in order to restore dignity, honor, self-worth, livelihood, and a measure of normalcy in their lives.
To provide counseling services (peer and professional; individual and group) and spiritual guidance to women survivors of GBV
To expose women to their legal rights through presentations and individual legal advice
To economically empower women through skill development and putting to use existing skills
To expose women to health promotion messaging, including nutrition and appropriate health-seeking behavior, for improved self-care
To achieve these objectives, the GRI team networks with professionals in the fields of health and nutrition, law, counseling, finance, and economic empowerment to provide services and guidance to women in the program through structured support groups.
Support groups bolster members’ interpersonal skills as they recover from the effects of GBV, while individuals also develop and strengthen abilities in processing thoughts and emotions. Support group members help each other with practical concerns, such as managing life’s tasks and challenges on a day-to-day basis. Through facilitated and focused support groups, members’ self-esteem and self-confidence have the potential to improve greatly.
Women tend to easily talk with other women about their issues, and discussing one’s past may be best encouraged through participation in a support group. When individuals discover that others’ have undergone similar experiences, they feel intense relief in knowing they are not alone, despite the uniqueness of each individual case. Attending support group meetings allows women to best address unresolved issues in their lives, make necessary decisions, and heal through the identification process with others.
GRI support groups are characterized by safety and kinship. The environment provides a safe place to share one’s pain and find affirmation, where one can share freely and without fear that others outside the group may learn of their problems. Other key characteristics of these groups include acceptance and confidentiality through intimacy and trust. This platform is ensured by the implementation of a code of ethics that every member of the support group agrees to honor during her membership period.
Pilot Project Results
From counseling support group sessions, ladies reported improved relationships with in-laws, husbands, and children, as well as others in their circles.
Many have developed positive self-talk and self-acceptance.
Through support groups, ladies have developed confidence in themselves and each other.
Ladies attending legal counsel sessions have gained skills in addressing GBV from a rights-based approach. Previously remaining silent after an assault, ladies now respond to GBV with a full knowledge of their rights.
Support group members have reported an increased sense of hope, specifically through the faith-based teaching and prayer time offered through GRI.