News Center for Human Rights, Gender & Migration Violence & Abuse

Toolkit in action: Training on the Gender-based Violence Disclosure Toolkit in Mexico

Written by Adriana Aramburu-Graypel, MPH, manager of the Center for Human Rights, Gender & Migration

Save the Children-Mexico participants with the trainers, Sofia Cardona, standing far right, and Adriana Aramburu-Graypel, bottom right

It can be difficult for children in contexts of forced displacement to speak about experiences of gender-based violence they may have witnessed or experienced. This can make it difficult to provide the care or protection they need.

From 2020-2022, the Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration at the Institute for Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis, studied barriers that survivors of Gender-based Violence (GBV) face when deciding whether to seek help or report their experiences. “Over the years, the humanitarian sector has made great progress in setting up systems to help GBV survivors with their medical, psychological, and legal needs,” notes Kim Thuy Seelinger, center director. “But for any of these support services to be activated, survivors need to be able and willing to come forward and let providers know what they need. So it’s important to understand the factors that either help or hinder folks from coming forward. Disclosure is a gateway to support and protection.”

Funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, our center’s multi-country research led to development of an evidence-based, adaptable toolkit for service providers working with GBV survivors in diverse humanitarian crisis settings. Available in seven languages, the GBV Disclosure Toolkit, provides practical guidance regarding issues such as preparing for disclosure, and supporting survivors during and after disclosure. So far, our center’s team has presented and helped train many partners around the world on the GBV Disclosure Toolkit, including asylum authorities in Mexico and Greece, NGO teams from Kenya, Mexico, Greece, and eastern Europe, and even war crimes investigators in Ukraine.

Since the beginning, Sofia Cardona, a senior protection associate from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR-Mexico) and a long-time partner of our center, has been involved in the toolkit’s development. “I’ve been working together with the team at the Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration on the GBV Disclosure Toolkit for a long time and have been privileged in seeing it coalesce from its inception as a report, regionally focused, into a global toolkit that is essential for ensuring safe and ethical handling of disclosure by GBV survivors in contexts of displacement or disaster.”

The relationship with UNHCR and its partners in Mexico has been a long and rich one. In April, manager for the Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration, Adriana Aramburu-Graypel, MPH, traveled to Mexico City to support Cardona in a training for Save the Children-Mexico staff. The training provided resources and guidance for team leads on how to utilize the GBV Disclosure Toolkit, practice skills on how to incorporate the tools into their organization, and trained their individual teams on using the toolkit.

Because they often see cases where someone has experienced GBV, the training participants discussed the importance of incorporating the toolkit into their offices across Mexico. Many felt as though there was not an adequate plan in place for when a child disclosed an instance of GBV. Child Protection and Humanitarian Advocacy Coordinator for Save the Children and event organizer, José Lugo, expanded on why they have chosen to host this training. “The protection of children’s rights in contexts of human mobility represents a central focus for Save the Children Mexico. In our daily work, we are unfortunately aware of several cases in which girls, boys, adolescents and women have survived gender-based violence as a reason for leaving their country of origin, or during their transit or destination. For this reason, it is vital to have the necessary skills, awareness and tools to accompany the processes of self-motivated disclosure of gender-based violence.”*

When asked why participants were taking this training and what they hope to learn, some mentioned the following:

“I hope to learn how to identify cases of gender-based violence and how to provide timely support to the victims.”*

“Strengthen us as an organization to respond to the cases we detect in the field.”*

“To have tools for my work to integrate aspects of gender-based violence that we are not currently achieving.”*

The one-day, train-the-trainer event covered toolkit modules on ‘Preparing for GBV Disclosure’ and ‘Community Outreach’. These modules were chosen to support Save the Children in establishing a solidified base for Toolkit implementation. At the event and to use in their offices, participants received a hardcopy of the toolkit in Spanish. The training incorporated a toolkit overview, discussion on how to tailor tools to their specific needs, and through individual and group activities, an active practice of the tools.

The training was adapted to fit the needs of Save the Children Mexico. For instance, scenarios were modified to include more of a focus on cases involving children, and discussions on Mexican laws that affect service providers’ response to disclosure. Other modified activities included reviewing the Save the Children GBV pamphlet as a group and discussing how the toolkit can support their current activities with UNHCR-Mexico. By adapting to the needs of Save the Children and incorporating additional practice activities, participants will have a solid foundation to weave the tools into their response protocols.

At left: Participants practice how to implement tools in a small group. Right: Participant José Lugo, presents small group outcomes to the full team

Overall, the training event was a success. Sofia Cardona reflected on the outcome, “The training undertaken with Save the Children-Mexico, a UNHCR partner, was an incredible opportunity in ensuring the toolkit’s impact will expand through the commitment of amazing staff, who will replicate the training throughout Mexico, and which will, in turn, create safer spaces for any woman, man, child or adolescent who has experienced GBV and may seek out help through Save the Children.”

José Lugo added, “We are also carrying out advocacy actions with public actors to link survivors with health services and access to protection mechanisms in the country, in the safest and most dignified manner. This is a titanic task, but we are convinced that the collective effort will allow us to improve the processes of identification and timely care for children and women in mobility.”*

“As this training provided an opportunity for hands-on practice with the tools, I’m confident in Save the Children’s capacity to disseminate and implement the toolkit across Mexico,” said Adriana Aramburu-Graypel.

After the training, participants discussed their plans to bring this knowledge back to their teams and incorporate the GBV Disclosure Toolkit into their practices. Many shared their excitement of participating in this first training and mentioned how they wish they could have had additional sessions and more time to explore the toolkit further. With presence in seven states, Save the Children-Mexico will continue to train its staff, and incorporate the toolkit into its advocacy efforts with decision-makers in different sectors.

The Center for Human Rights, Gender and Migration will continue to be a resource for Save the Children-Mexico and will support ongoing implementation and toolkit adaption efforts in Mexico. Trainings on the GBV Disclosure Toolkit will also continue globally.

The GBV Disclosure Toolkit and other project products are available here. If you are interested in hosting a training for your organization, please email

*Quotes have been translated from Spanish.