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Empowering Syrian Women Refugees in Turkey

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© UNDEF

SEP 10, 2015

An UNDEF-funded project in Turkey works with Syrian women refugees in Reyhanli, Turkey, so as to give them opportunities to organize, engage and support other refugees while preparing for the future, whether in Turkey or in Syria. The women are trained in international law, including human rights, women's rights, child rights and humanitarian law; democratic mechanisms, project conceptualization and design; and communication techniques.

The women have formed teams to propose, design, run and staff their own sub-projects, which will range from a legal practice to be run by lawyers among the refugee group who will review and validate legal and identity documents for Syrians in Turkey; a women's committee to coordinate information and services for Syrian women in Reyhakli; a child letter forum and a theatre ensemble, both intended to address the trauma of war and the refugee experience; a number of vocational programmes and a training centre for young girls, including to prevent child marriages -- a growing problem among Syrians in Turkey struggling to provide for their families. UNDEF Executive Head Annika Savill visited the project in September 2015 to discuss the way forward, including the possibility of bringing all the above sub-projects together in one house so as to maximize synergies between them and to serve as a community and resource centre for all Syrians in Reyhanli, currently numbering 40,000.

"It's courage and work like yours that can transform a refugee from a statistic to a human being living in dignity," Annika Savill told the group during the visit. The project, implemented by Mandat International, is intended to serve as a possible model for other Syrian refugee communities.