Small grant support gives courage and motivation to women’s organizations, enabling them to thrive


Grassroots women’s civil society organizations (CSOs) have a key role in strengthening women’s leadership and their communities. Working for the empowerment of women in Adana, a southern province of Türkiye, the Housewives Solidarity and Development Association (EVKAD) is such a CSO that benefits from a ‘small grant’ provided by UN Women. The UN Women grant has enabled the organization to become digital savvy with new online capabilities. Now EVKAD can reach and empower more women than ever before, thanks to its improved technical, digital, and institutional capacity.

Photo Caption: EVKAD members are in front of the association. Photo: EVKAD Archive
EVKAD members are in front of the association. Photo: EVKAD Archive

EVKAD’s services have grown considerably since its establishment in 1994 and this has helped increase the number of local women in the labour market. The Association provides capacity-building targeting local women who want to trade their homemade products or open their own shops. EVKAD works to scale up the production and marketing capacities of its members, and eventually help them gain economic independence.

“In the past, when censuses took place across Türkiye, if women said they were a housewife they were ranked as ‘unemployed’,” says Sema Turan Yapıcı, the founder of EVKAD, when telling the story of how the Association adopted ‘Housewives’ in its founding name. “But, as housewives, we were not unemployed rather working at home, producing crafts and arts,” she explains.

With the Small Grant provided by UN Women, EVKAD built a website for local women to upload their resumes. In this way, the Association helps them find jobs. Within two weeks of the website launch on 14 May, they have reached 160 women. Thanks to the small grant, EVKAD also strengthened its technical and digital capacity to reach more women. The small grant is provided under the Strong Civic Space for Gender Equality project funded by the European Union.

“EVKAD has been striving to operate effectively with limited capabilities and resources. We were also struggling to adapt ourselves to the digital era. UN Women’s small grant genuinely gave us all the courage and motivation we needed to bring out what we have,” says Leyla Ramazanoğlu, Deputy Chair of EVKAD.

“Through these training opportunities, our members quickly became skilled in using social media tools effectively,” says Leman Kaynakoğlu, an EVKAD member. “We saw how these capacity-building training sessions helped our members gain self-confidence,” she adds.

The Association also runs a Women Counselling Centre, to address violence against women and other issues. It provides counseling and referral support to women on their legal rights, employment, as well as child and early forced marriages. Since 2012, the Association has reached 4,000 women. “Now that we have constantly up-to-date communication channels, such as a website and social media accounts, thanks to the small grant, we are confident that we will now reach even more women,” says Ferzan Özyaşar, Project Associate at EVKAD.

“Women’s CSOs are the pioneers of change. They have a role in creating equal spaces within their communities by putting the needs of women at the center,” says Zeynep Aydemir Koyuncu, Programme Specialist at UN Women. “We will continue supporting women’s organizations and women-led CSOs through small grants and other means, which helps them strengthen their capacities to advance women’s rights and gender equality,” she concludes.