Press Release: UN Women launches “Women-only Centre” for refugee women and the host community in Turkey

UN Women launched today a “Women-only Centre” in Gaziantep, in southeast Turkey, to offer livelihood opportunities for refugee and Turkish women and girls and provide them a safe space for dialogue and cohesion. The Centre opened its doors as part of the “Gaziantep Women-Only Centre: Providing Livelihood Support Project” that aims to enhance the economic and social integration of refugee women and girls in Turkey.

Date: Thursday, November 9, 2017

Photo: UN Women
The launch of the SADA Women’s Development and Solidarity Centre. Photo: UN Women

UN Women officially launched today the “SADA Women’s Development and Solidarity Centre,” with the participation of the Japanese Government, who generously provides funding for the Centre, and with the participation of its implementing partners, Association of Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Immigrants (SGDD-ASAM), International Labour Organization (ILO) and Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality.

One of the beneficiaries of SADA Women-only Centre shared her experience in the centre. Photo: UN Women
One of the beneficiaries of SADA Women-only Centre shared her experience in the Centre. Photo: UN Women

The Centre is part of the “Gaziantep Women-only Centre: Providing Livelihood Support Project,” which aims to support the empowerment of women, to create dialogue between refugee women and women living in the region and to strengthen social solidarity.

The event brought together high-level local government representation; including the Deputy Governor of Gaziantep Ugur Aladag and the Provincial Directorates of the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, Youth and Sports, Migration Administration, and Public Health for Gaziantep; civil society, local administrations in the region, representatives of international organizations, the media and the women and children beneficiaries of the Centre.

UN Women Country Programme Manager Fulya Vekiloglu said that Turkey is the country that hosts the highest number of refugees in the world with more than 3 million registered Syrian refugees. Vekiloglu underlined that women and girls are half of the refugee population and they are affected by conflicts, oppression and violence. “SADA Women-only Centre symbolizes the hospitality of Turkey. The Centre is not just for refugee women and girls but embraces all women appreciating their diversity. SADA means ‘sound’. We wanted the Centre to symbolize women’s voices. We aim to reclaim women and girls as active participants in economic, social and cultural life at the Centre. We are very appreciative of the support of central and local government” said Fulya Vekiloglu.

UN Women and project partners are offering a variety of services, such as trainings on gender equality, psycho-social support, livelihood and language skills courses, and encourage women’s participation to the social and economic life. Vocational courses and Turkish language lessons are given by Ezo Gelin Public Education Centre. The building also has a kindergarten for children.

“I believe that my life will change at this women-only center. With the trainings we receive, I will stand on my feet and look after my children. I am thankful that the Centre supports us. I am not lonely anymore and I have a family,” said one of the beneficiaries of SADA Women-only Centre.

The Japanese Ambassador to Turkey, His Excellency, Akio Miyajima. Photo: UN Women
The Japanese Ambassador to Turkey, His Excellency, Akio Miyajima gave his opening speech.

The Centre operates with financial support from the Japanese Government. The Japanese Ambassador to Turkey, His Excellency, Akio Miyajima expressed his appreciation to UN Women and implementing partners for the launch of the Centre and highlighted that Japan is always ready to support activities for refugees and refugee women in the region.

Emphasizing the collaborative work between UN agencies and the Turkish government since the beginning of the refugee influx from Syria, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Irena Vojackova-Sollorano said, “Through our experiences we have learned the importance of the creation of women-only spaces that can break women’s isolation, give them confidence, help them overcome traumas and make them feel ready to integrate into the social and economic life of their new communities. Those kinds of spaces provide women with skills development, protection and social support to allow them to recover their dignity and sense of self-worth. That is why this Women-only center is important for refugees. I strongly believe that this project will contribute to development of cohesion and peaceful relations between refugee and host communities through the women who will have a chance to better know about each other by the project activities of this Center.”

Alia El-Yassir, UN Women Deputy Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Head of Office a.i. and Representative to Turkey a.i.
Alia El-Yassir, UN Women Deputy Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Head of Office a.i. and Representative to Turkey a.i.

“We need to tap into the immense potential of women in Turkey to achieve sustainable development and peace. UN Women is committed to working collaboratively to develop the best approaches to support women both within the refugee population and in host communities,” said Alia El-Yassir, UN Women Deputy Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, Head of Office a.i. and Representative to Turkey a.i.

Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Turkey Office, said that ILO, as a specialist organization that regulates the basic standards of working life, attaches importance to the decent jobs to Syrians as well as Turkish citizens who are under temporary protection. Özcan also underlined that, within the context of this principle and by the activities of SADA Women-only Center; they hope for local and refugee women to have access to the labor market and income opportunities for themselves and their families.

"Turkey continues to be the country that gives the highest amount of humanitarian aid in the world, with more than 30 billion dollars. As the Syrian crisis enter its 7th year, efforts for vulnerable groups, women and children has become more important than ever,” said İbrahim Vurgun Kavlak, General Coordinator of Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM).

“We are hosting Syrian refugees and we are working for social cohesion of refugees. We wanted to be part of this project to support women's empowerment. There is a need for local administration’s support and involvement to ensure sustainability of the projects,” said Abdullah Aksoy, Head of Health and Social Affairs Department at the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality.

Children from the kindergarten of the Centre ended the opening ceremony with a lively dance show.

Detailed Information:

Pınar Alkan Yarıkkaya

UN Women, Gaziantep Women-Only Center: Providing Livelihood Support Project

0532 294 19 07 / pinar.yarikkaya@unwomen.org