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Syrian lives matter: Putting the health of girls first in Syria

Grassroots focused peer to peer health educator program for girls between the ages 10-19 across Syria led by Syrian midwives

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What specific problem(s) are you trying to address?

Since the war began the maternal mortality rate inside of Syria has grown claiming more lives of Syrian mothers, and the rates of child marriage have increased, placing more girls in danger of having babies before their bodies are ready. These are just two of the ways in which the war in Syria continues to endanger the lives on girls in Syria. Many of the social structures that were present before the war that protected girls (strong educational institutions, access to family planning, delayed marriage) are gone. These Syria midwives want to train an army of peer to peer educators to increase awareness of the dangers facing girls and women, and equip Syrian girls with the knowledge they need to protect themselves.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the problem(s) you are working to address?

1. How many women are giving birth unattended in Syria? 2. How many women want family planning but don't have access to it? 3. How many girls want to delay marriage but don't have the advocacy to do so?

Explain Your Idea

Our idea is simple: using the knowledge and lived experience within the Syrian midwifery community to form a support network through the creation of a peer to peer educator community to support younger girls and women in Syria. The older women of Syria are worried about the health, mental/emotional/physical, of the young women inside of Syria. The older women had access to education, health care, and delayed marriage, perceived luxuries that young women coming of age in Syria do not have. The senior Syria midwives that Circle of Health International has worked with over the last six years expressed a desire to create a support system for younger women to provide them with knowledge missing from their lives: family marriage, how to delay childbearing, and the value of education. They want to cultivate a community of young women inside of Syria armed with the knowledge they need to advocate for themselves, and ultimately, to keep one another safe from the perils of war that threaten women in a specific and unique way: early marriage, early pregnancy, cessation of education. This will be done through events where the women and girls come together to talk about topics ranging from menstrual health to family planning to consent in sex. This will also be done through on on line community via snap chat and Facebook providing private spaces for discussion and support.

Name the three most important ways that your idea will address your identified problem(s).

1. This program will be led by Syria women and girls who will set the agenda and define the outcomes 2. The program will bring people together as well as providing an on line platform for these women and girls to support one another 3. This program provides something positive for the women and girls of Syria who do not have an abundance of hopeful activities in their lives, infusing a sense of hope for how to find advocacy in their own lives in spite of the dangers facing them every day

How is your idea unique?

Our idea is unique because it is 100% locally led. COHI has a partnership with a dynamic local women's organization in Syria, Radio Souriat, led my young, Syrian feminists who are working with the Syrian midwifery community (often older, less socially progressive women) to craft the goals of this program. This is unique in many ways, and we are very proud of our continued commitment to engaging in partnerships with dynamic, female leaders who in their own voices define and shape the goals, objectives and outcomes of our collaborations as they, being closest to the the crisis, are the most appropriate to do so.

What are some outstanding concerns or questions that you have regarding your idea?

The environment inside of Syria where this program will take place is unpredictable. Access to communication, capacity to travel and move around inside of the country, will define, in great deal, success of this program, and that required a great deal of flexibility in the team. Creativity is a must in programs inside of Syria, and a strong sense of trust for the women on the ground leading the initiative.

Who are your end users?

The women of Syria, both young and those in middle age. While this program is designed to equip young women inside of Syria with knowledge and support, our prediction is that the older women of Syria also benefit because this program provides them with a positive, hopeful outlet for the sadness and despair they feel so strongly in their daily lives.

Where will your idea be implemented?

  • Syria

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement
  • Extreme drought
  • Community at risk of disaster

Tell us more about the emergency setting that you intend to implement in

Syria experienced the worst draught in decades the two years before the war started. Once the war began access to food, education, water, and health care have been incredibly limited. Syria's Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) has increased from 49 to 68 lives births since the start of the war in 2011. According to UNICEF, the rage of child marriage has risen from 13% before war to 32% in 2014 amongst the displaced Syrian communities.

What is your organization's name?

Circle of Health International

Tell us more about you.

We are a US-based international aid organization with a mission to increase access to quality maternal, reproductive, and newborn health services in crisis settings. We are 14 year old, and have worked around the globe to care for mothers and babies in some of the world's hardest places. We work with women led, women powered groups on the grassroots level, we prioritize the inclusion of midwives in crisis responses, and we have a deep commitment to following the agenda set by the women's groups we work with recognizing that they are most appropriately placed to define the agenda, intervention, and outcomes of a response.

Organizational Characteristics

  • Women-led organization
  • International/global organization

What is the current scale of your proposed innovation?

  • Community - 1+ communities within 1 country

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

Expertise in Sector

  • Yes, for more than a year.

Organization Location

Austin, Texas

What is your organizational status?

  • Registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

What is the maturity of your innovation?

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: Tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.



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Hi Sera and team!

An important reminder, Refinement Phase closes this Thursday, October 26 at 11:30pm PST.

We can only consider complete submissions, so please make sure that you have reviewed the Feedback and Refinement Phase Checklists and answered all of the questions on the platform. Note that we added one more multiple choice question to the end of the form.

If you're having trouble figuring out how to edit your idea, please refer to this guidance:

Best of luck!

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