Women Community “Sheroes”: Advancing Women Leadership in Repatriation and Reintegration

Home / Women Community “Sheroes”: Advancing Women Leadership in Repatriation and Reintegration
February 28, 2024

Search for Common Ground started implementing the project Women Community “Sheroes”: Advancing Women Leadership in Repatriation and Reintegration (R&R) in February 2023. Funded by the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (S/GWI), the project is implemented by Search for Common Ground together with its two local partners, Public Fund DIA and Public Association Steps to Success. The overall goal of the project is to foster women’s leadership in advancing gender-sensitive, locally-owned, and collaborative R&R efforts targeting women and children returnees in selected communities of Kyrgyzstan. Through this project, Search engages local women leaders in the target communities who hold formal and informal influence (ITIREK Women’s Community Groups) to participate in R&R processes of women returnees.


The project holds significant relevance as a considerable number of individuals from Kyrgyzstan have traveled to Syria and Iraq to participate in armed conflicts since 2015. Over the years, various nations have initiated the repatriation of their citizens, including Kyrgyzstan, which has started the process of bringing back women returnees and their children from 2021. In 2023, Kyrgyzstan anticipates a substantial influx of returnees from Syria. Drawing from the experiences of organizations in other Central Asian countries, it becomes evident that involving the community in the R&R processes is of utmost importance. Notably, this project marks a significant milestone as it is the first of its kind in Kyrgyzstan to actively engage community members in the R&R processes.

Theory of Change

IF diverse local influential women have increased capacity and networks to support the rehabilitation & reintegration of women and children returnees, and IF they have opportunities to activate these to lead collaborative R&R efforts for women and children returnees and share lessons learned from these efforts with relevant decision makers, THEN R&R efforts targeting women and children returnees will be more effective, BECAUSE they will be more gender-sensitive, locally-owned, and driven by evidence.

Core Objectives and Activities

Search seeks to build women-led sensitive R&R processes and provide opportunities for women returnees and their families for integration. This is done through the capacity building of ITIREK women groups, improving their collaboration with government institutions and other stakeholders. Search will support through small grants ITIREK Women’s Community Group’s initiatives to strengthen social cohesion and economic and social opportunities for women returnees.

Utilizing the networks developed through years of work on women’s leadership and R&R processes – with the connections and trust Search has built with two local women-led partner organizations, DIA and Steps to Success, and government officials at the national and local levels, Search will leverage these relationships formed to support central project activities.

Search and its local partners intend to reach the project’s objectives through the following steps:

1. Identify participants in the “ITIREK Women’s Community Groups”, and establish a database comprising influential and active women within the target communities, who can assume leadership roles in supporting vulnerable women.

2. Conduct meetings with the ITIREK Women’s Community Groups, to build connections, discuss women leadership and engagement challenges, and explore women’s involvement in community life.

3. Strengthen the capacity of the ITIREK Women’s Community Groups, along with local partners, government officials, local self-government bodies, and experts, so that they can provide efficient psycho-social services to returnees, conduct R&R processes and trauma-informed interventions, and design community initiatives to support returnees.

4. Establish a platform to support the collaboration between governmental bodies and the ITIREK Women’s Community Groups to discuss R&R-related challenges and concerns.

5. Award small grants to the ITIREK Women’s Community Groups to enhance the socio-economic opportunities of vulnerable women including women returnees in the target regions.

6. Organize a national conference with the participation of the ITIREK Women’s Community Groups to showcase successful cases, address challenges, and develop recommendations for supporting women from vulnerable groups in collaboration with government agencies at the national and local levels.

Expected Results

1. Identified influential and active women in the target communities (i.e., ITIREK Women’s Community Group members) are able to build connections and discuss challenges in women’s leadership and R&R processes.

2. ITIREK Women’s Community Group members have strengthened their capacity to nurture empathy and tolerance in intervention processes and develop community initiatives to support women from vulnerable backgrounds.

3. ITIREK Women’s Community Group members, local authorities, and other community members have enhanced discussion on matters related to empowering and involving women in community life.

4. Vulnerable women, including women returnees in the target regions, are able to gain more socio-economic opportunities through the designed projects by ITIREK Women’s Community Group members.

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