Choosing a workshop venue
The workshop venue should be: Safe! All parts of the workshop venue should be assessed for security.
Questions to ask include:
Who is running the venue? Do they understand that the workshop is meant to offer a safe space for participants, which means that the venue must be off-limits to other guests who may be staying at the same location – ideally a venue will be reserved only for workshop participants.
Who else is sharing the venue? If it is a shared space, will participants feel comfortable in their rooms and lobby and communal areas (for example, a venue that also caters to groups that may stay up late drinking, with loud music, would be inappropriate).
How safe are the surrounding areas? Can participants walk in the area during the day and in the evening? It is particularly important that participants feel free to take walks and explore the town or natural surroundings without feeling threatened.
Are the workshop organisers/venue owners able to access good health services in case of a medical emergency? Do they have the numbers of the ambulance service, local doctors, a pharmacy and a good health facility to hand? Is there someone at the venue who can assist with an emergency response? Some participants may have medical conditions, an unanticipated illness or in some cases, a late stage pregnancy that could require an immediate intervention.
Is the region safe? The venue must be located in a geographical area that is appropriate for all participants. This is particularly relevant to women human rights defenders working amidst repressive regimes or in some zones of armed conflict (especially if there are participants from different ‘sides’ of a conflict) who may not be able to meet in their own country. In these cases, a venue should be chosen in a safe third country. For example, for groups coming from different parts of the South Caucasus or the Middle East, or participants working in contexts with repressive regimes (such as Chechnya, Burma or Uzbekistan), a third country is the best option.
Combined workshop space and accommodation. For safety, comfort and convenience, it is best that participants are accommodated in the same place as the workshop.
In a natural setting. Past experience demonstrates consistently that a venue located outside of an urban area, with access to nature (forest, mountains or ocean) is ideal for an integrated security workshop. Rural, more secluded areas, also can offer a safer atmosphere for women, allowing them to walk around the venue without fear.