Young women affected by the earthquakes in Türkiye are empowered through gender equality trainings


Participants are holding UN Women kits that contain sanitary products and basic supplies for women at the Young Women Support Center in Malatya. Photo: The Community Volunteers Foundation
Participants are holding UN Women kits that contain sanitary products and basic supplies for women at the Young Women Support Center in Malatya. Photo: The Community Volunteers Foundation

In the aftermath of earthquakes in Türkiye, young women are finding resilience and empowerment. The Community Volunteers Foundation, in partnership with UN Women, implements a programme that empowers earthquake affected women through gender equality trainings.

The Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG) engages with youth through its Gender Equality Mainstreaming Program within the “Strong Civic Space for Gender Equality” implemented by UN Women Türkiye with the financial support of the European Union. The 18-month training program aims to raise awareness among youth aged 17-25 on topics such as gender equality, positive discrimination, non-violent communication, safe relationships, the women's movement, fundamental gender concepts, violence, and methods of combating violence.

Within the Gender Equality Mainstreaming Program TOG aims to provide training and implement the project in more than 130 TOG communities operating throughout the country and to raise the gender awareness of 300 young people.

Following the earthquakes in Kahramanmaraş on February 6, 2023, TOG redirected its project field to the earthquake zone, recognizing the exacerbation of gender inequalities during crises and initiated rapid efforts to support the affected youth in the disaster zone.

TOG conducted an analysis of the gender equality indices in the region that they had carried out prior to the disaster. The findings revealed significant disparities, including low female employment rates, high rates of informal employment in agriculture, widespread early and child marriages, and a severe lack of female representation in local government.

“We observed that there is an increased burden on young women in the aftermath of the earthquakes. Young women found themselves taking on the care responsibilities for the elderly, disabled and children. This, in turn, made it challenging for them to continue their education or pursue employment. Moreover, they lost spaces for socializing. To address these issues, we established support centers for the psychosocial well-being of affected youth, particularly young women,” says Hazal Günel, Gender Equality Programs Specialist at TOG.

In collaboration with Elidor, a hair care brand owned by Unilever, TOG established Young Women Support Centers in Adıyaman, Hatay, Kahramanmaraş, and Malatya, providing spaces for young women to study, socialize, and engage in informative and entertaining activities, as well as increase their awareness and knowledge on gender equality.

“I realized that violence is not just about physical violence. Forcing someone to do something they don't want is also a form of violence. I discovered this,” says a woman participant from Malatya, after attending the gender equality trainings.

“In this workshop, I learned a lot about the types of violence, and it was very helpful. We can always break out of the cycle of violence,” says another participant from Malatya.

“Many women did not know that positive discrimination was a good thing before. But now, they share that they will demand it,” says a woman participant from Malatya.

In the year 2024, UN Women and TOG are committed to supporting women’s access to rights and creating spaces for meaningful discussions and interaction. This partnership aims to catalyze transformative changes in the lives of numerous women in earthquake-affected areas.

As part of the Gender Equality Mainstreaming Program, young trainers will conduct training sessions for 300 young individuals in the coming months. The aim is to inspire them to develop projects and engage in activities related to gender equality.

The Community Volunteers Foundation (TOG) is a partner organization of UN Women Türkiye, working to raise awareness of gender equality among young people and support them as change leaders to implement their own gender equality projects, within the “Strong Civic Space for Gender Equality”, funded by the European Union.