Women empowerment in INTERSOS "Women and Girls Oasis" at Za'atari refugee camp
Every morning INTERSOS staff reaches the Syrian refugee camp of Za’atari, in the Governorate of Mafraq, not far from the Syrian border. During last January, the number of Syrian refugees hosted in the camp of Za’atari has tripled, reaching now about one hundred thousand people. All the Agencies had to coordinate their efforts in order to face this new wave of arrivals, that keeps on-going with 2-3 thousand per night.
Among others, INTERSOS collaborated with UNWomen to establish a “safe space” where women and girls could gather together and receive assistance out of the standardized family control system.
INTERSOS has implemented a program of “cash for work” through which Syrian women refugees, professional hairdressers and tailors, can work six hours a day in the laboratories and deliver free services for other women in need.
This system, from one side guarantees the women refugees working through the cash for work scheme a weekly income, on the other side helps women to engage with a peer-to-peer support mechanism and empowerment process.
INTERSOS has set up a program of recreational, educational and psychosocial activities in the “Women and Girls Oasis” that help women to socialize, to meet among them and with our personnel, and to dedicate some time to themselves. This sometime brings some of them to denounce SGBV cases, psychological abuses or sexual discrimination, but also to take advantage of the centre for experiencing a different role in the social life of the camp.
This sometime brings some of them to denounce SGBV cases, psychological abuses or sexual discrimination, but also to take advantage of the centre for experiencing a different role in the social life of the camp.
In many cases of domestic violence, INTERSOS staff had to work a lot in terms of confidence building and self-reliance before to get the women enough comfortable and trustful to be able to talk about the violence they are victim of.
In other cases, women use recreational and educational activities to tell their stories of violence in Syria from which they escaped.
The “Women and Girls Oasis” has, until now, involved more than three hundred women each month in the different activities, such as tailoring, hairdressing, drawing, English classes, mosaic and handcraft workshops, football for girls.
The Oasis has become not only a focus point for many refugees in the Camp, but an important safe place for women growth, at personal and social level. Indeed as a result of attendance at our centre, some active women started to participate in the Women Committee and the Leader Committee, two important participatory structures for refugees and their camp life.
The partnership between an emergency INGO like INTERSOS and the “Entity for gender equality and empowerment of women” of the United Nations has, in fact, the overall objective to achieve a better participation of women in the life camp and to strengthen them with economical self-reliance.
Za’atari, Jordan, 5 March 2013
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