Greek Libraries Supporting Women in Conflict Situations: Current and New Roles

ARAHOVA, Antonia (2017) Greek Libraries Supporting Women in Conflict Situations: Current and New Roles. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session S15 - Satellite Meeting: Women, Information and Libraries Special Interest Group. In: LIS professionals supporting women living in conflict situations, 16 August 2017, Bratislava (Slovakia).

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Language: English (Original)
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Greek Libraries Supporting Women in Conflict Situations: Current and New Roles

During the past two years, 1.3 million people fleeing conflict and persecution have traveled through Greece in search of safety and a better life in Europe. With the closure of the Balkan borders and the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement in March 2016, more and more refugees are relocating from camps to Greece’s towns and cities with the hope to build a better future for their families. As governments enforce restrictions and tighten border controls, reception and transit facilities could become overcrowded and tense, increasing the risks to women and girls. Women and adolescent girls should not be treated like an afterthought in humanitarian, social and cultural response. Specific challenges in transit include family separation, psychosocial stress and trauma, health complications, physical harm and injury, and risks of exploitation and gender-based violence. Language barriers and cultural factors, combined with the intention of asylum-seekers to move through transit countries as quickly as possible, make it more challenging for humanitarian actors to provide essential services, as well as to identify and support particularly vulnerable groups. Libraries, as democratic open public spaces, can play a crucial role in providing access to specific information to women living in conflict situations, creating friendly spaces by providing opportunities for them and / or to their children to learn, share and feel safe. The paper focuses on current projects in Greek libraries working in this direction and proposes a nationwide framework to ensure an innovative function of Greek libraries to bridge the cultural gap faced by women displaced from their own cultures due to conflict situations and integrate them to the European culture emphasizing the role of libraries as main cultural institutions with social orientation.

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