Our field worker Emine, who is one of the organizers of information sessions we conduct for women in Hatay, met with participants of the session. Ohoud, Maisa and Fatma all agree that these sessions not only bolster their knowledge but provide them with a safe place to freely express themselves.
The degree of equality between men and women living in a country is not solely determined by that country’s level of economic development. The prevailing social structures and prejudices within a country are also crucial factors that amplify this inequality. On that note, our goal is to reinforce the grounds of gender equality and to eliminate prejudices by increasing social awareness.
Through the information sessions we provide as a part of our project in the Iskenderun disctrict of Hatay, we aim to increase our beneficiaries’ awareness of gender equality, to strengthen their access to resources and opportunities, and to support their equal participation in economic life.
Our motto for this path we walk on is “Strong Women, Strong Generations, a Strong Society”, and our chief motivation is the positive feedback we receive from our beneficiaries. I would like to share the thoughts passed on to us by three of our beneficiaries: Ohoud, Maisa and Fatma.
Speaking In Comfort
We start our conversation with Ohoud, who is a regular participant of our information sessions, and the story of her introduction to Support to Life. Ohoud came to Turkey in 2012, together with her husband and 5 children. Her husband died when he briefly returned to Syria to renew his passport. While she was in deep sorrow due to the death of her husband, she had to struggle for her 5 children. As a single parent, she was responsible for earning an income that would cover the needs of her children, getting a job that would allow time for her to attend to them, finding a house for them to live in, getting food for them to eat... The list of her responsibilities had increased dramatically. Ohoud explains that after a difficult period of recovery she rose up and began volunteering for a humanitarian aid organization in 2017. She emphasizes that after she witnessed the struggles of other women like her, she felt empowered and continued to work voluntarily. She was able to reach out to Support for Life thanks to one of our volunteers. By providing a space for sharing, the information sessions helped her learn about her rights as a refugee and as a woman, and assisted her in more clearly seeing the ways she could overcome difficulties. Ohoud notes that she attends every new session with enthusiasm.
Ohoud expresses the positive developments she noticed in other women who attended the sessions as follows: “Women who had difficulties speaking of their troubles outside expressed their views and opinions more openly and freely after the information sessions. Our self-confidence is being renewed. This made me quite happy.” She states that being side by side, sharing and communicating troubles and trying to find solutions together is good for all women. She adds: “To give a more recent example, I attended the International Women’s Day event on March 8th, where we discussed women’s rights. That day I came home so happy that even my children noticed the change in me.”
A Psychological Need
Another one of our beneficiaries, Maisa, explains that when she first came to Turkey she voluntarily worked in a civil society organization, and opened up her home for information sessions. In that time period, she greatly benefitted from these sessions just as she does now. She further states that she would happily open up her home for more such activities, and adds: “After the information sessions, I noticed that the awareness of women who attended them increased, and they would be more psychologically relaxed. In reality there are many issues we truly need, but are worried, to discuss. I also thank you very much for speaking of topics that would not otherwise be discussed.” What Maisa is referring to here, is domestic violence, child early & forced marriage, underaged motherhood, and similar topics. Women in these sessions share what they have been through, what they have witnessed, and what they are bothered by. For many of them, it is like taking a great weight off of their shoulders. These acts of sharing enables women to feel like they are not alone, and strengthens their psychological resolve.
Another of our participants, Fatma, came to Turkey years before the war in Syria and became a Turkish citizen by marrying a local man. However, Fatma explains that her citizenship does not mean she is free from all difficulties: She notes that as a woman she lives through many difficulties, though she does not elaborate further. She then adds: “I first learned about your association thanks to my neighbor. I was very happy to see you were working with women. I tell everyone around me about what I learned in these sessions.”
With the positive feedback we receive from women, we aim to eliminate discrimination especially against women and girls wherever there is gender inequality. We are growing stronger for a better future and are being nourished by new information. We know that together we are strong ...
Emine Çelik Çökmez
Field Worker / Hatay
Editor: Çiğdem Güner
Corporate Communication Expert