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The SOPs process

Last edited: July 03, 2013

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  • In order to ensure quality and strengthened coordination and partnership, the development of SOPs for the prevention and response to violence against women and girls in conflict/post-conflict settings requires a collaborative process that must include all relevant actors such as: UN agencies, government and non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and representatives of the community affected by the emergency (IASC Gender SWG, 2008).  The process of developing SOPs should be seen as equally important to the final SOP product. Inclusiveness, participation and transparency are key.
  • When developing SOPs it is important to include agreed-upon reporting and referral systems, mechanisms for obtaining survivor consent and permission for information-sharing, incident documentation and data analysis, coordination, and monitoring. In addition, SOPs must address ethical and safety considerations and guiding principles for issues related to confidentiality, respecting the wishes of the survivor, mandatory reporting (in cases, where it is appropriate, such as minors) and acting in the best interests of a child (Ward, 2010).
  • In May 2008, the IASC Sub-Working Group on Gender and Humanitarian Action produced a detailed template on developing SOPs.   In 2009, the GBV AoR introduced a GBV SOPs Workshop Manual to support individuals and country teams in the use of the SOPs Guide.   The workshop emphasizes both the content of SOPs and the process of developing them.  Although all sections in the SOP Guide are covered in the workshop, emphasis is placed on specific topics and issues that have proven especially challenging in the field. GBV actors facilitating the SOPs process in their field operations should be familiar with the SOPs Guide and the SOPs Workshop Manual, using them as a resource when developing their own SOPs.
  • American Refugee Committee (ARC) developed the following outline for rolling out the SOPs in Southern Sudan that illustrates some of the key steps in designing and implementing SOPs (additional information on rolling out the SOPs can be found in the SOPs Workshop Manual):

1.  Prepare/ Mobilize Stakeholders

  1. Meet the Ministry of Social Development  (or Ministry linked with women’s affairs) in the site of the SOPs roll out to engage the Ministry in leadership of the SOP roll out
  2. Meet with UNHCR (a key partner in the GBV SOPs roll out) and any other leads of Protection Cluster/GBV subcluster in the site to engage them in leadership of the SOP roll out
  3. Create an invitation letter from the MoSD UNHCR and ARC to all relevant stakeholders Suggested stakeholders include:

            i.    Ministry of Social Development

           ii.    Ministry of Local Government

          iii.    Ministry of Education

          iv.    Ministry of Health (Hospital and PHCC Administration, Reproductive Health Department)

           v.    Ministry of Legal Affairs

          vi.    Ministry of Internal Affairs (Police and Prison)

         vii.    Judiciary – Attorney General

        viii.    Police Service (Police Commissioner, Police Officers)

           ix.    AIDS Commission

            x.    Health NGOs

           xi.    Child Protection NGOs

           xii.    Mental Health NGOs

          xiii.    UN Agencies

          xiv.    Red Crescent Society

           xv.    Peace Commission

         xvi.    Women’s Associations, Leagues and Community Groups

       d. Deliver invitations to stakeholders 2 weeks in advance. In the case of government stakeholders, may be especially important to hold meetings in person to explain purpose of SOPs and engage their commitment to send a senior representative to participate. Collect names and contact details of nominated participates for follow up nearer the time.

      e. Remind stakeholders a day or two before the workshop by phone call or in person.

       f. Print out copies of the SOPs for each participant. Prepare workshop venue.

       g. If necessary identify a translator who is familiar with all GBV terms – SOP workshops are usually bilingual as not all stakeholders will speak English.

2. Conduct 2-day workshop with all stakeholders. (Add one or two day GBV basics introduction if the majority of stakeholders are new to GBV prevention and response activities and have not previously been engaged in such a training.)

3. Following the workshop, the lead facilitator should update SOPs template with information from the workshop.

4. Conduct follow up meetings: usually not all key stakeholders attend the first workshop, so meet individually with all missing stakeholders to brief them on the workshop and provide a draft for their consideration.

5. Send out draft by group email to all stakeholders who did attend the meeting for their consideration (and hard copy to any stakeholders without email access). Ask all stakeholders to send their feedback on any corrections to the draft to the email group within 1 week.

6. Invite all stakeholders to attend a final one-day signing meeting.

7. Print out and distribute final copy of SOPs.

8. Facilitate strategy identified in “Informing the Community” Chapter of SOPs to ensure community is aware of services and referral pathways.

9. Regularly monitor implementation of SOPs through regular coordination meetings of SOPs partners.