From Where I Stand: “A woman needs to be strong and stand on her own feet”

27-year-old Sahem Hussein and her family fled from the war in Syria to Turkey in 2012. After surviving many hardships in Turkey, she discovered the SADA Women Empowerment and Solidarity Centre, which provides livelihood skills and psycho-social services to refugee and local women in Gaziantep, near Turkey’s southern border with Syria.


Photo: UN Women/Sinem Aydin Lopez
Sahem Hussein. Photo: UN Women/Sinem Aydin Lopez

When we first fled to Istanbul, we had a very difficult time as we couldn’t speak Turkish and didn’t have our identity cards. I used to work as an obstetrical nurse in Syria, but didn’t have my diploma with me. So, we all started working in the textile industry. Our Turkish neighbours were very nice and helpful. The house we rented was empty and each of the neighbours gave us some furniture. One of them also taught me Turkish.

I heard about the SADA Women’s Empowerment and Development Centre here in Gaziantep. At SADA, I completed a hospital registration course and got my certificate. In the course, I also learnt how to use a computer.

I was really exhausted emotionally and the SADA Center was a relief for me. We really enjoyed the course and had fun together. It felt like my old good days! I made new friends with whom I cried and laughed.

Our instructor always told us that a woman needs to be strong and stand on her own feet. She helped me get a job doing translation and secretarial work for one of their suppliers. I started to work there as a translator and secretary fulltime. Now, I can save for my children’s future, who live with their paternal grandparents as I can’t afford childcare.

The SADA Center gave me friends as close as family members and it empowered me, so I was able to get a job. It’s important to empower women. My message to refugee women is: don’t let anyone break you. Don’t wait for someone to do something for you, stay strong and stand on your own feet.”

SDG 5: Gender equality
SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG 10: Reduced inequalities
SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

More than 5000 women and girls have registered with SADA Centre so far to benefit from language and vocational trainings, counselling and referral services. Set up and managed by UN Women, the SADA Centre is run in partnership with the International Labour Organization, the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants, and the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, with financial support from the European Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the 'Madad Fund', and the Government of Japan. Sahem Hussein’s story relates to the Sustainable Development Goals on achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls ( SDG 5), promoting decent work and productive employment for all ( SDG 8), on facilitating safe migration and mobility of people ( SDG 10) and promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development ( SDG 16).