Donors and partners visit Syrian refugee women in Turkey, vowing continued support to SADA Women-only Center

Donors and partners met with refugee and local women during their visit on 11 July to the SADA Women Empowerment and Solidarity Center in Gaziantep in the southeast of Turkey to take stock of the progress of UN Women’s refugee response programme.

Date: Friday, July 19, 2019

Donors and partners are briefed about textile production at the SADA Women-only Centre. Photo: Serenas Tourism
Donors and partners are briefed about textile production at the SADA Women-only Centre. Photo: Serenas Tourism 

Donors and partners met with refugee and local women during their visit on 11 July to the SADA Women Empowerment and Solidarity Center in Gaziantep in the southeast of Turkey to take stock of the progress of UN Women’s refugee response programme.

The visitors, including officials from the European Union, Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, and the International Labor Organization (ILO), appreciated the services provided to women and girls by the Center, run by the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD-ASAM). They also agreed to work together to find ways of maintaining this vital support for the Syrians under temporary protection and local women in Turkey.

The delegates entered the cooking workshop where they tasted handmade pastries and were briefed about the certified cooking training and catering services offered through the SADA Women’s Cooperative. This Cooperative was recently set-up together by refugee and host community women. The visitors also saw the textile workshop and heard how participants are using the skills learned here to improve their livelihoods.

“We often talk about refugee women as victims but I believe they should be seen as having high potential. In particular, women can play a huge role in social cohesion and dialogue in their communities,” said Laura Fallavollita, Programme Manager for the European Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, at the Country Advisory Board meeting the same day. She added that it is important to further strengthen the cooperative and replicate the model elsewhere.

The delegates taste local pastries made by refugee and local women at the SADA Women-only Centre. Photo: Megumi Iizuka
The delegates taste local pastries made by refugee and local women at the SADA Women-only Centre. Photo: Megumi Iizuka

To meet the pressing needs of women following the outbreak of the Syrian war in 2011, UN Women has been offering refugee and local women vocational training, livelihoods, psycho-social and referral services at the Center since it opened in 2017.

More than 5,200 women have benefited from the Center. 560 women improved their Turkish language skills and 1,245 women enhanced their vocational and income generation skills. UN Women supported the set up of SADA Women’s Cooperative, which was recently selected by the Paris Peace Forum as one of the most 100 successful initiatives among more than 700 applications.

Hibe Şuni, representing Tomorrow’s Women Committee, a grassroots solidarity group at SADA, said: “Women benefited a lot and they changed their lives. Women started to develop their spirit of cooperation and leadership. Through various trainings we have gained experience and worked together. Some have started to join the job market.”

The SADA Women-only Center and the SADA Women’s Cooperative are fundamental parts of UN Women’s ‘Strengthening the Resilience of Syrian Women and Girls and Host Communities’ programme. This initiative is financed by the European Union, the Government of Japan, and the Government of Iceland. It is run in partnership with the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality, the ILO and SGDD-ASAM.

Speaking at the Country Advisory Board meeting, Zeliha Ünaldı, UN Women Turkey Office Head of Programmes, said: “Host countries are faced with many socioeconomic challenges. In these challenging environments, it is vital to ensure employment opportunities as well as economic and social empowerment for refugee women.”

Of around 3.6 million Syrians registered under Temporary Protection Status in Turkey, Gaziantep is home to over 440,000 Syrians.

Abdullah Aksoy, Gaziantep Metropolitan Government Assistant Secretary-General, highlighted the importance of continued cooperation with various organizations to tackle child marriages, informal labour and social integration of refugees.

“It is impossible for the Metropolitan Municipality to achieve this alone,” he said. Given the large number of refugees making up one fourth of the province’s population, he noted: “We pay utmost attention to women and gender equality and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with international organizations and NGOs.”