Women are empowered “hand in hand” to join the workforce in the earthquake-affected region of Türkiye


Participants who joined accounting training are holding their certificates in Mardin, Türkiye. Photo: Courtesy of INGEV.
Participants who joined accounting training are holding their certificates in Mardin, Türkiye. Photo: Courtesy of INGEV.

The “Hand in hand” (Eleleyiz in Turkish) project, implemented by the Human Development Foundation (INGEV) is working towards economically empowering women in Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, and Mardin by offering support to increase their labor force participation capacity. Targeting young women “Not in education, employment, or training” (NEET), the initiative has provided vocational training to 110 women in three cities and offered career counseling to 100 women. Among those women are the earthquake survivors who would like to build a new and better life after a traumatic experience.

The project is named “Hand in hand”, symbolizing the empowerment of women, improvement of individual and household income, female solidarity, and the harmonious development of local businesses. INGEV kicked off the project in November 2022 in Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, and Mardin within the “Strong Civic Space for Gender Equality” implemented by UN Women Türkiye with the financial support of the European Union. The project also has a focus on increasing employment opportunities for women affected by the earthquakes.

The “Hand in hand” project centers on the needs of NEET women aged 18-29, aiming to enhance their vocational skills through online and on-site training activities. The initiative has conducted needs analyses and provided training sessions, mentorship, and consultations, contributing to employment in these three regions. 
The project commenced with a comprehensive needs analysis, shedding light on the urgent and critical vocational and post-earthquake needs of NEET women focusing on the three project cities. According to the analysis:

  • 71% of previously employed NEET women who are currently unemployed attribute their absence from the workforce to low wages, with 59% mentioning working without insurance and 26% citing caregiving responsibilities
  • 79% of job-seeking NEET young women are uncertain about where to seek support to enter the workforce
  • 59% of job-seeking NEET young women rely on acquaintances for job searches, with only 13% utilizing online platforms
  • Only 11% claim proficiency in writing a CV, while 10% feel confident in a successful job interview
  • A mere 6% of these women are informed about vocational training or internship opportunities
  • 53% of women express a need for support in finding employment, while 45% require assistance in vocational training

The project is implemented in collaboration with local governments, civil society organizations, business associations, public representatives, universities, and other stakeholders. The “Hand in hand” project, emphasizing the linkage of education with employment, also provides individual, goal-oriented consultations for these young women.

“The project aims to enable women to join the workforce and achieve economic independence. The project is now evolving into a crucial model for the economic empowerment of young women in Şanlıurfa, Gaziantep, and Mardin. We invite all local stakeholders in the region to collaborate with us to contribute to the employment of these young women, who have gained both vocational and social competencies,” says Hande Soğancılar, the project coordinator at INGEV. 

Under the project, 110 women in Mardin, Şanlıurfa, and Gaziantep have received vocational training on digital marketing, social media management, and basic accounting. These training sessions, determined through extensive workshops held in the region, aim to enhance employment in the business sector. Participants accessed the opportunity to develop their sector-specific skills and receive e-government-approved certificates upon completion.

“During the training sessions, I acquired insights into effective strategies for job applications and interviews. The resume preparation module has been highly beneficial for me. I understood how important it is to craft an accurate resume during the application process. By emphasizing my positive attributes in the resume, I got a job in a civil society organization in the earthquake region,” says Seda Karakuş, an early childhood education specialist at a civil society organization in Gaziantep.

“I am very pleased with the support I received from INGEV. The accounting course was very productive, and we, as participants, were very satisfied. I aim to advance in the field of accounting, and I am looking for a job. Accounting is the only field where I want to build my career, and I am determined to take steps in that direction,” says Nuray Erkuş, a participant from Şanlıurfa. 

Additionally, the project has provided career mentoring to 110 women, offering professional support in job search strategies and CV preparation. During these sessions, participants created a 5-year career roadmap and received mentorship support from influential figures in the labor market.

The Human Development Foundation (INGEV) is a partner organization of UN Women Türkiye, implementing a program that focuses on economic empowerment of young NEET women, access to the labor market, and the development of local partnerships for young NEET women in the Southeast region. The program is implemented within the “Strong Civic Space for Gender Equality”, funded by the European Union.