Peace and security

Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig
Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig 

The Syria crisis is entering its sixth year and millions of Syrians continue to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Turkey hosts the world’s largest community of Syrian refugees, over 2.8 million people, and 46.9 per cent of them are women. Only 10 per cent of these Syrian refugees are in camps; 90 per cent of them live in urban centres, mainly in Turkey’s impoverished south east, near the Syrian border.

Many Syrians in Turkey face very challenging economic conditions: 78 per cent of female refugees outside of camps say they lack enough money or food to last a week, forcing some to turn to negative coping mechanisms such as working illegally, child labour, and early and forced marriages.

The 2017-2018 Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) for Turkey identifies children and women at risk as having urgent protection needs and calls for resilience programming that advances gender equality. The Turkish government and international agencies are prioritizing access to self-sustainability and economic opportunities to improve Syrian populations’ livelihoods and support their integration into social and economic life. This transition from humanitarian to development assistance is well underway in Turkey.

UN Women in Turkey works to engender humanitarian action and strengthen refugee women and girls’ resilience and their access to opportunities, rights and services, as required by international treaties and national legislation. UN Women participates in 3RP coordination mechanisms such as the Syria Response Group and Syria Task Force, and in working groups in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, Emergency Social Safety Net, Protection Cluster and Livelihoods Cluster.

UN Women in Action in Turkey

To further enhance the refugee response programme, UN Women in Turkey is working to initiate stand-alone projects that benefit the most vulnerable Syrian women and girls.

In 2017, UN Women, with national partners, is carrying out in seven Turkish municipalities a comprehensive assessment that will gather data on the needs and challenges faced by Syrian refugee women and girls in Turkey, their access to services including education and employment opportunities, and identify areas for improvement.

The assessment will provide a strong baseline for future gender-sensitive interventions by UN Women and others, and ensure that programming interventions address specific challenges faced by women entering the work force and economic life. UN Women formed an advisory board for this assessment, ensuring close collaboration with relevant Ministries including the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, civil society and UN agencies.

To enhance the economic and social integration of refugee women and girls in Turkey, UN Women is implementing the Gaziantep Women-only Centre: Providing Livelihood Support, which serves both refugee women with a Temporary Protection Status and women from the host community.

Funded by the Government of Japan, the Gaziantep Women-only Centre is run by UN Women and its implementing partner, the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM), in cooperation with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Gaziantep Municipality.

UN Women is planning to further expand its programming for refugee women and girls across different areas of Turkey.