Violence against women persists in every country in the world and is a pervasive violation of basic human rights. Since the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, during which emphasis was placed once again on the endemic violence gainst women, efforts have been made at various levels to defend human rights and to eliminate violence. The Daphne Programme which was launched in the year 2000 has been supporting many NGO’s and other organizations to cooperate at the EU - level in the fight against violence towards women, children and young people.

Violence and aggression are topics that not only address EU-citizens but also immigrant women who have come to live in EU countries for different reasons. Migrant women and children are exposed to high risk regarding violence and abuse and therefore need suitable strategies to prevent and defend themselves from violent behaviour. Violence does not only occur in the family but also in other settings, like at the workplace, school, in the media and during public discourse. Many migrant women are exposed to rasism or discrimination because of their ethnic background and/or visible signs like wearing a headscarf. Although much effort is being put into identifying and dealing with violence against women within and outside the family, the special aspects concerning immigrant women and their needs do not receive enough attention.

Violence in all its facets is understood and interpreted in many different ways, depending on the individual, cultural and social background of the person. As a result the topic of violence has to be approached in a very sensitive manner especially in order to understand different approaches within different cultures. Awareness raising and the dissemination of information is an integral part in the fight against violence and abuse.

Supporting immigrant women to become their own advocates as well as to train them to function as community leaders could prove to be the most sustainable method to address the needs of immigrant women who are survivors of abuse or those threatened by violence. Educating women to become Peer Leaders and empowering them to bring about change in their lives will make them stronger, so that they will be able to inform and train other women in their own communities.

The project Opening Doors is being implemented within the Daphne III Programme and will run for two years (from January 2011 to December 2012). OMEGA - Transcultural Centre is the lead organization of the project, together with five partner organizations in the EU: OPU in the Czech Republic, IKWRO in England, HRDC in Greece, ARTEMIS in Romania and Slovene Philanthropy in Slovenia. The main aspects and goals of the project are violence prevention, awareness raising, empowerment and self defence training for immigrant women. Women who are interested and capable will be informed, trained and supported to become Peer Leaders who in turn will train and inform other women in their communities about violence prevention. Another important aspect of the project is the implementation and expansion of local and transnational networks on an EU-level and the exchange of knowledge and Models of Good-Practice in the field of violence prevention. During the lifetime of the project, guidelines and curricula will be developed and made available on this site. These as well as other products developed in the project could be used by other organizations to support their efforts in sustainably reducing violence against immigrant women.

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With financial support from the Daphne III Programme of the European Union

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