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Islamic Relief Canada’s work with

women & girls around the world


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IS LA M IC RE L IEF CANA DA’ S WO R K WITH WOMEN & GI RLS AROUN D TH E WORLD

Introduction “Success or failure of social protection systems in addressing women’s poverty rests heavily on whether they are designed and operated from a gender perspective.” 1 Magdalena Sepúlveda, former UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights

Islamic Relief Canada (IRC) recognizes that gender inequality is one of the most severe forms of discrimination in the world. It affects girls and women of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities, and is a major cause of global poverty and many other serious challenges. Women and girls are disadvantaged in their access to food, education, healthcare, and paid work, and research suggests that they are more likely to die from natural disasters than their male counterparts are.2

gender inequalities, as seen in a widening gender gap in school enrolment and increased exposure to sexual and gender-based violence.3 Therefore, efforts to eradicate poverty will require greater attention to the particular vulnerabilities faced by women, as well as ensuring their meaningful participation in economic empowerment, rehabilitation, and reconciliation.

Divorce, separation and widowhood also affect women more negatively than men, with divorced women in the 18-49 age group more than twice as likely to be poor than divorced men in the same age group. Conflict further intensifies and reproduces these

At Islamic Relief Canada, we are firmly committed to ensuring that all of our humanitarian and development work keeps in mind the particular needs of women and girls. This includes advocating for an end to unjust practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) in Canadian and international forums.

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2

https://www.islamic-relief.org/gender-justice

3

https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/b75a1229-

http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2017/11/news-unwomen-and-the-world-bank-unveil-new-data-analysis-on-womenand-poverty


I N TRODUC T IO N

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Status of Women and Girls around the World


STATUS OF WOMEN AND GIRLS AROUND THE WORLD

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AFRICA

ASIA

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of food insecurity, where more than half of the female population in the region is food insecure at moderate or severe levels.

In East and Southeast Asia, the widespread prevalence of violence against women—including domestic violence, child marriages, and trafficking in women and girls—continues to be a significant issue across the region.

The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in the region is 556 deaths per 100,000 live births, making it the region with the highest MMR in the world and accounting for two-thirds of all maternal deaths every year. More than 56% of women and girls live in slum conditions across the region, where they lack access to essential resources such as clean water and safe sanitation facilities.4 In West Africa, women spend approximately six times as much time on unpaid care work as men.5 This is due to a variety of factors, including discriminatory social institutions and a lack of basic infrastructure. However, it ultimately highlights how this can greatly limit the time women and girls spend in economically productive activities and attending school—two activities that greatly contribute to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Unfortunately, a preference for male children continues to be present in many Asian societies, adding to the challenges faced by girls to survive and fulfill their potential. With approximately one in two girls married before the age of 18, South Asia has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world.6 In Pakistan, 21% of girls are married before the age of 187 and in Indonesia, one in four girls are married before reaching adulthood.8 Girls who marry early frequently face devastating risks to their health and well-being and are more likely to experience abuse and domestic violence. As well, the severe economic inequality across the region continues to threaten poverty reduction and negatively affect the fight against gender inequality. Significant disparities by region, caste, class, and income affect the use of maternal and child health services in South Asia.

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http://www.unwomen.org/-/media/headquarters/attachments/ sections/library/publications/2018/sdg-report-fact-sheet-subsaharan-africa-en.pdf?la=en&vs=3558

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https://www.unicef.org/rosa/what-we-do/gender-equality

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https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/11/09/time-end-child-marriage-pakistan

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https://www.unicef.org/indonesia/UNICEF_Indonesia_Child_ Marriage_Reserach_Brief_.pdf

https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/docserver/fe5ea0ca-en.pdf?

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MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA

EASTERN EUROPE

Due to sensitivity about intimate partner violence in the MENA region as well as the common belief that it is a personal issue, accurate and up-to-date data on the matter is unavailable and/or insufficient. The data that is available suggests that 35% of married (or formerly married) women in the MENA region have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.9

Two-and-a-half decades of political, economic and social instability and transformation in the region have had profound and long-lasting impacts on women and girls in Eastern Europe.

In terms of educational attainment, most countries in the region have made significant progress towards increasingly children’s school enrolment rates, but access remains unequal.

Gender equality remains a major challenge in the region despite the fact that women are relatively wellrepresented in secondary education. In Albania, there is limited participation of women in vocational training and widespread identification of men as “heads of households” results in a significant lack of land ownership among females. At around 18%, Kosovo has one of the lowest female labour force participation rates in the world.

Political instability and protracted humanitarian crises constitute the largest barriers to access to education in addition to factors such as gender discrimination, education quality and poor school environments.10

There are multiple barriers to women participating in the labour force across Eastern Europe, such as gender discrimination, a lack of affordable child care, and lower levels of educational attainment.

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https://www.unescwa.org/sites/www.unescwa.org/files/ publications/files/arab-women-report-violence-against-womenenglish.pdf 10

https://www.unicef.org/mena/education

In particular, rural women often form the majority within disadvantaged groups and frequently face constraints due to gender norms which—though they differ across countries and change over time— generally place them at a disadvantage in relation to men across many different areas, such as fewer opportunities for education and income-generating activities, discrimination, segregation in the labour market, and unequal inheritance practices.11 11

http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5497e.pdf


STATUS OF WOMEN AND GIRLS AROUND THE WORLD

canada While significant efforts have been made in Canada to constrain gender-based violence (GBV), much work remains to be done as GBV continues to be a serious problem in both the public and private spheres in the lives of women and girls. In Canada, spousal violence is consistently the most common form of violence against women. Indigenous women are 2.7 times more likely to be victims of violence than non-Indigenous women are.12 Poverty is also widespread among Canadian women, particularly affecting Indigenous women, women from visible minorities, women with disabilities, and single mothers with children. 13 21% of single mothers in Canada raise their children while living in poverty. They are also twice as likely to enter shelters.14

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http://fede.qc.ca/sites/default/files/upload/documents/ publications/wsc_by_the_numbers_vaw.pdf 13

https://www.canadianwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/ Fact-Sheet-WOMEN-POVERTY-September-2018.pdf 14

http://www.cwp-csp.ca/poverty/just-the-facts/

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ISLAMIC RELIEF CANADA’S WORK WITH Women & Girls


ISLAMIC RELIEF CANADA’S WORK WITH WOMEN & GIRLS

Introduction Islamic Relief Canada’s commitment to empowering women is a core component of our work in the Middle East & North Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada. Our projects focus on a variety of high-need sectors including food, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), shelter, livelihood, protection, education, nutrition, healthcare, vulnerable youth, and genderbased violence (GBV). Islamic Relief Canada recognizes that gender inequality is one of the most severe forms of discrimination in the world and is a major cause of global poverty. We also recognize that there are several at-risk groups, many of whom face particular risks during humanitarian crises. These include adolescent girls, female heads of households, widows, survivors of GBV, and Indigenous women. As such, we have made it a priority to ensure that our programming, both domestic and international, is considerate of the particular forms of support that women and girls need in different contexts.

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Middle East & North Africa

Jordan:

CREATING FRIENDLY SAFE SPACES FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN This project aims to strengthen over 400 women’s and children’s psychosocial conditions by creating friendly safe spaces for them. After a successful first and second phase, the third phase of this project aims to provide women, adolescents, and children with a protected environment where they can participate in organized activities to play, socialize, learn, and express themselves among others. Psychosocial support for women is also being provided through awareness sessions, psychosocial empowerment sessions and skills training sessions.


ISLAMIC RELIEF CANADA’S WORK WITH WOMEN & GIRLS

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Turkey:

Iraq:

In collaboration with the International Supporting Women Association (ISWA), Islamic Relief Canada is currently implementing a project in Gaziantep, Turkey, where a group of Syrian refugee women between the ages of 25-45 were chosen to form a committee of active Syrian women community leaders.

The ongoing conflict in Iraq has resulted in over 8 million people in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. Gender-based violence (GBV), particularly sexual gender-based violence (SGBV) is widespread and an alarming element of the conflict.

SYRIAN WOMEN IN SOCIAL RENAISSANCE PROCESS

By developing their political, social, and community leadership skills through various training sessions, an initial core network of Syrian women community leaders is being formed. These women will play an effective role in representing Syrian women at both local and international events in the future.

PROVIDING RELIEF FROM SEXUAL GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE (IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GAC)

Sexual violence is used as a terror tactic, primarily targeting women and girls of specific ethnic and religious minority groups. Unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of the issue, SGBV services available to survivors are extremely scarce and, if available, are often inaccessible and/or of poor quality. In 2016, IRC applied for and received CAD $3 million funding from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) for a 3-year project in Iraq (Baghdad and Anbar) which aims to fill in the gap of services in the protection sector, specifically regarding SGBV. This will be achieved through multisectoral SGBV prevention and response programming in four key areas of intervention: protection, healthcare, psychosocial services, and livelihood. This project has three main components: sexual and reproductive health, gender empowerment, and community outreach. This project will also be working with boys, men, and local faith leaders to promote awareness on SGBV and dismantle the harmful social norms found across the country.


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Eastern Europe

Kosovo:

RASPBERRY FARMING TO EMPOWER WOMEN This project aims to support widows and orphans through the provision of raspberry plants, water pumps, irrigation equipment, and other agricultural tools to establish sustainable raspberry farms. These women are also receiving training from experts in the field on raspberry farming and management. This will allow families, particularly female-headed households, to sell their crops and earn a sustainable income. During this project, Islamic Relief Canada is also working to establish connections with markets, producers and other processors in Kosovo to enable these households to sell their raspberries.


ISLAMIC RELIEF CANADA’S WORK WITH WOMEN & GIRLS

Kosovo:

WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT LIVELIHOOD PROJECT From 2016-2017, Islamic Relief Canada implemented a women-focused livelihood project in Kosovo which aimed to empower women and increase their income. This project was a huge success as it provided sewing machines and several trainings and workshops to 58 widowed women (with orphaned children) in rural areas of Kosovo, where the unemployment rate is high and many women have not completed secondary education. These women also lacked access to necessary income-generating assets. As a result of this project, the beneficiaries began producing their own garments and earning an income whilst working from home. A small charity shop was then established, where they could continue to sell and trade their garments.

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ASIA

Afghanistan:

SUPPORTING ORPHANS AND WOMEN THROUGH HEALTH AND AWARENESS (SOWHA) After a successful first phase in which over 12,000 registered orphaned girls, their siblings and mothers were provided free healthcare services, Islamic Relief Canada is now implementing a second phase of this project where an additional 17,500 individuals will be served, over 70% of them are female. Through this project, women and children will receive healthcare treatments, checkups and counselling sessions, and the opportunity to take part in awareness sessions on both children’s rights and GBV.


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Bangladesh:

India:

This project aims to promote women-led, interestfree financial services for 200 extremely poor and marginalized households of widows and orphans for their sustainable empowerment and development.

This project aims to improve the living conditions of 750 single women-headed households in targeted slums in Hyderabad.

COMMUNITY-LED INTEREST FREE SOLUTIONS FOR THE EXTREME POOR (CLSP)

This project will create and diversify sustainable livelihood options, economic opportunities, and food and nutritional security; empower the targeted households; and reduce gender discrimination.

SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOOD PROJECT FOR SINGLE FEMALE HOUSEHOLDS

This is being done through several activities including the formation of coalitions of single women to help in collective ownership and bargaining capacity, the establishment of vocational training centers, and the provision of vocational material so women can begin to work independently and earn a sustainable income.


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africa

Mali:

SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOODS AND FOOD SECURITY ENHANCEMENT This project aims to contribute to enhanced food security and improved livelihoods for vulnerable women in the circle of Kati, Mali. This project targets communities living in the face of adverse climatic conditions whose means of livelihood are deteriorating due to drought. Specifically, this project largely focuses on highly vulnerable female-headed households whose means of livelihood have been disrupted and who lack support. This project is helping these women engage in agricultural production by providing irrigable vegetable gardens using underground water and a rainwater collection system through the construction of a mid-sized dam to collect run-off water during the short rainy season. This project is also working to strengthen the capacity of 20 community-based organizations (CBOs) so that they can assist in enhancing women’s empowerment and increase their involvement in important decision-making processes.


ISLAMIC RELIEF CANADA’S WORK WITH WOMEN & GIRLS

Niger:

REDUCING NUTRITION-RELATED CHILD MORTALITY As malnutrition is the leading cause of death among children in Niger, this project aims to reduce child mortality and improve the health and nutrition conditions for over 8,000 women and children under the age of five through an integrated approach focusing on health, nutrition and food security. This project is improving the capacity of healthcare centers by providing medical equipment and healthcare training to workers and by hiring additional staff to ensure women and children are able to access the medical services they need. In addition to this, food security and nutrition are also being addressed by setting up a large community garden to increase food availability and diversity for the local community. This project is also providing a solar-powered borehole to enable those in the village to access clean water.

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canada

CARING DADS PROGRAM To help combat domestic violence, Islamic Relief Canada is working in partnership with Changing Ways and the Muslim Resource Centre to help create an Islamic, culturally-sensitive adaptation and translation of the Caring Dads Program, a perpetrator-based intervention that works with men who have abused, neglected, or exposed their children to domestic violence. The Caring Dads Program is delivered across Canada and around the world. This model is well-regarded and well-supported among intervention programs operating at the intersection of fathering and domestic violence. This program aims to help ensure long-term, sustainable community programming which engages fathers in preventing and responding to violence against women and children.


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AMAL WOMEN’S SHELTER

ILFP MAMA-WE PROGRAM

In partnership with the Amal Centre for Women, a not for profit organization/shelter which addresses cases of domestic violence in the Montreal Muslim community. The partnership aims to provide therapeutic group workshops to female clients of this centre who have experienced domestic abuse. These workshops aim to help facilitate the healing process for women as well as to provide a safe space where they can openly share their experiences and develop a social support network going forward.

In partnership with I Love First Peoples, this project aims to target the significant gaps in education pertaining to maternal health and wellness as well as assist young Indigenous women in the transition to motherhood. The Mama-We Program is focusing on a group of young mothers living in remote Indigenous communities. The program assists these women through the development of mentorship programs; workshops on topics such as self-care, infant care and reproductive health; and through the provision of basic resources for self-care and infant care. This program will also help inspire and equip these young mothers to pursue their education through discussions with other indigenous women who have faced similar circumstances as well as through the provision of e-learning resource and highly needed childcare services.


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Women and Girls education


WOMEN AN D GI RLS EDUCAT IO N

Despite the progress made over the past 20 years, girls around the world continue to face barriers to education including poverty, violence, child marriage, poor infrastructure, cultural norms and gender inequality. According to the World Bank, giving girls access to schooling is a central part of eradicating global poverty, thus there is a critical need to provide equal access to school for boys and girls.15 Gender disparities persist, particularly in secondary-level enrollment and while reasons differ from country to country, a common explanation is that secondary school often coincides with the onset of puberty. At this time, the possibility of marriage often emerges and the education is no longer seen a priority. Economic motives (or more precisely, the lack of them) are also a factor in girls’ enrollment as parents’ investment in education may be largely dependent on their perception of schooling’s contribution to labour market outcomes.16 In many places, attending school can be a risky endeavor, particularly for females who face an increased risk of sexual harassment or abduction while travelling to and from school. This is often seen in rural areas, where they may be no local school for girls and they must travel long distances for their education. 15

h t t p : / / w w w. w o r l d b a n k . o r g / e n / n e w s / i m m e r s i v e story/2017/08/22/educating-girls-ending-child-marriage 16

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-58008-1_1

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It is also important to note that girls’ education goes beyond merely getting them access to ensuring that girls are able to learn and feel safe while in school. A lack of safe and accessible sanitation facilities and supplies also contributes to low attendance and high dropout rates among adolescent girls, especially those who are menstruating. Education is one of the most influential ways to empower women and is a valuable asset for social opportunities among women, girls and other at-risk groups. Educated women are more likely to resist domestic violence, focus more on health and education in their families and are more likely to participate in community and civil society matters to voice their opinions As one of our priority sectors, Islamic Relief Canada recognizes that education is a fundamental human right for both males and females and thus, we are committed to ensuring that children receive at least a primary education.


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India:

TUNISIA:

This project aims to assist in ensuring that boys and girls have improved access to a safe and gendersensitive facility where they are able to receive quality and affordable education. This project will intervene by refurbishing and reconstructing the existing community school building which, at present, operates classes only up to the 5th grade for girls.

Unfortunately, over 1,000 of the Tunisian schools in rural areas do not have appropriate sanitation facilities. This has resulted in adolescent girls often having to stay home from school during menstruation due to the lack of gender-segregated toilets or private washing facilities at schools.

EDUCATION INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECT

Unfortunately, the extremely poor condition of this building as well as the lack of sanitation facilities is making this a highly unsafe school for children. Thus, through the rehabilitation of this school, this project will benefit approximately 500 households who depend on this community school for girls’ education.

CHILD FRIENDLY SCHOOLS

This project aims to improve the chances of 1,000 girls and boys to complete a full course of primary schooling through access to improved WASH and education services. In this regard, the project will install eleven new latrines and refurbish 64 of the existing latrines so that they are functional and used among both boys and girls. General hygiene awareness sessions for all students as well as health awareness sessions and special hygiene kits for girls will also be provided to promote safe and hygienic practices among the students.


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Lebanon, Turkey & Nigeria:

SYRIA:

The Gulmakai Network, co-founded by the Malala Fund, seeks to fill gender inequality gaps in education by investing in and connecting girls’ education advocates and educators to each other and to the tools, training, and partners required to spark social and systemic change.

As the crisis enters its eighth year (as of December 2018), there are now over 5.8 million school-aged girls and boys in need of education assistance inside Syria. Since the beginning of the crisis, over one in three schools have been damaged, destroyed, or made inaccessible. A serious lack of safety and security constitutes the greatest barrier to accessing education and the vulnerability of out-of-school children, particularly girls, and puts them at a substantially higher risk of being exposed to exploitation, abuse and rights violations.16

THE GULMAKI NETWORK MALALA PROJECT

In Lebanon, Turkey, and Nigeria, the project involves workshops, the formation of girls’ committees, and awareness campaigns on the importance of a girls’ education.

EDUCATION SUPPORT FOR SYRIAN CHILDREN

From 2016-2017, Islamic Relief Canada implemented an education project in Idlib, Syria where access to education was provided for over 4,400 girls and 3,500 boys through the distribution of school kits consisting of school supplies and winter jackets. Over 200 teachers’ salaries were also paid for and teachers had the opportunity to take part in important trainings on psychosocial support and child protection. These actions helped to ensure children received a safe and good quality education for years to come.

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https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/ resources/2018_2018_hrp_syria.pdf


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Advocacy in Support of Women and Girls CALL TO ACTION ON PROTECTION AND GBV:

PLEDGE ON PREVENTING AND ADDRESSING SEXUAL MISCONDUCT

The Call to Action on Protection and Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies was launched in 2013. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative to fundamentally transform the way GBV is addressed in humanitarian operations via the collective action of partners and governments.

In September 2018, IRC signed “The CCIC Leaders’ Pledge on Preventing and Addressing Sexual Misconduct” as part of a shared commitment, as one of Canada’s leaders in humanitarian and global development work, to ensure the full implementation of policies and practices that will protect and respond to our staff, volunteers and the communities we serve.

The aim of this initiative is to drive change and foster accountability within the humanitarian sphere so that every humanitarian effort includes the policies, systems, and mechanisms necessary to mitigate GBV risks, especially violence against women and girls, from the earliest phases of a crisis, and to provide safe and comprehensive services for those affected by GBV. Islamic Relief Canada has been a member of the Call to Action since 2016.

We recognize our duty to care for all the people we work with, which is amplified by power imbalances that are often present in the spaces in which we serve. IRC is committed to creating safe and respectful workplaces and programs that promote gender equality and are free from gender-based violence, including by addressing and responding to all abuse of power, holding people to account, and protecting the vulnerable.


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COMMITMENT TO END FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION/CUTTING

ISLAMIC RELIEF’S WORK ON ENDING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN & GIRLS

In 2016, Islamic Relief Canada, in partnership with Orchid Project, held an event on Parliament Hill (Ottawa) to raise awareness about ending female genital mutilation (FGM/C) globally.

Islamic Relief Canada partnered with the Institute for Global Engagement to produce a Learners’ Manual countering Islamic religious justifications on Violence against Women and Girls - particularly looking at FGM/C, domestic violence, early/forced marriages and the dress code in Islam.

IRC presented the findings of our report on the practice of FGM/C, based on field research in Indonesia, where 49% of girls under the age of eleven experience FGM/C. Islamic Relief Canada also described our work with women and girls in over 40 countries around the world. The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s Minister for International Development, was in attendance, along with other parliamentarians and activists. Islamic Relief Canada has also published two reports on Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. The first one provides an in-depth field study of the practice in Indonesia while the second report provides detailed analysis of the arguments of FGM/C in Islam.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND HONOUR In 2019, Islamic Relief Canada published a report which provided a detailed analysis on the services available to Canadian Muslim women that have been affected by domestic violence. The report also provided a detailed analysis on the concept on honour in Canadian Muslim families and its impact on women, girls, men and boys.


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Women and Girls programs report  

Women and Girls programs report