On 13 January, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Belgium, together with its partners, organized the kick-off meeting of the Equalcity project.

Funded by the European Union (EU), this project aims at improving existing urban services for (potential) victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in order to better reach migrant communities and improving identification, referral, protection and recovery of SGBV victims within these communities. This project targets EU cities and their migrant communities, including refugees and asylum seekers, whether they are newly arrived or from a second or third generation. This new initiative builds on existing material and past projects of IOM and its project partners.  

4 EU partner cities, together with 4 partner organizations will develop and pilot 4 different SGBV toolboxes that will tackle SGBV issues in migrant communities from a specific angle.

  • The first toolbox will be developed by IOM in partnership with the Brussels-Capital Region and RainbowHouse Brussels. It aims at creating and testing a SGBV toolbox targeting LGBTQI+ persons. The objective is to set up and manage safe spaces for LGBTQI+ within existing public services.
  • The second toolbox will be created by IOM, the city of Luxembourg and the NGO Femmes en Détresse A.S.B.L. It will focus on violence against migrant women and aims at improving the awareness and capacity of frontline workers so that they can deliver effective support to female SGBV victims in migrant communities.  
  • In the third toolbox, IOM, the city of Rome, the Sapienza University and the NGO ETNA – Progetto di Etnopsicologia Analitica will create a SGBV toolbox targeting unaccompanied minor children (UMC). The aim is to develop, implement and test mindfulness-based training for legal guardians, social workers, and cultural mediators working with UMC who are (potential) victims of SGBV. A separate module will be developed for the UMC themselves which will allow them to better cope with SGBV along their integration path and transition to adulthood.        
  • Finally, IOM will create together with the city of Gothenburg a SGBV toolbox targeting parents in migrant communities with the aim of increasing their awareness on SGBV and the impact of domestic violence on children.

For each toolbox, a panel of experts (academics, representatives from migrant communities, SGBV survivors, public institutions, IOM, etc.) will provide input and feedback to the project partners. At the end of the project, once all toolboxes have been piloted in the field, about 20 trainee cities will have access to the tools developed. These trainee cities have expressed their desire to strengthen their urban services by focusing on one of the topics tackled in the toolboxes. They will play an active role in the dissemination of the project tools through their national and EU city networks.


            This project is funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020).