Women Solidarity Centre (WSC)
The project in brief
Seyhan Municipality - Turkey
November 2018 - Ongoing
The project is supported under the PEP, CLIP2, QUDRA2 programs of BMZ and GIZ. Grant supports, which will last until the end of 2022, are expected to continue in the next period.
The foremost attribute of the Centre is having protection, social cohesion and education services under one roof. This one-stop access for a range of services creates a unique synergy for the working teams as well as for the beneficiaries. Turkish language courses, vocational trainings, workshops, case management, individual and group psychosocial support activities, information counselling, awareness raising activities, social cohesion and vocational courses are carried out at the Centre.
The overall objective of the project is to improve resilience and empowerment of women from both refugee and local communities. Within this scope the project seeks to:
- Facilitate economic empowerment of women through enhancing employment opportunities by supporting particularly self-employment or work-from-home models;
- Provide linguistic education options to refugee women for better social integration and for the possibility of pursuing further/higher education;
- Provide psycho-social support to improve resilience and help heal personal and social wounds inflicted by the reasons and results of immigration;
- Improve social cohesion among refugee and local community women through psycho-social support and economic empowerment.
- To help introducing a sense of normality after years of living as a refugee and start addressing women as women regardless of their nationality/status, help them self-explore their desires as much as their needs, problems and traumas, provide the opportunities to see and bond with each other on a deeper level without emphasizing the differences or vulnerabilities and focus on their definition of a powerful woman, not on their barriers or shackles.
Two factors are crucial in the successful and effective implementation of the project.
- The grant support provided by the granting institution is the most important factor that ensures the realization of the project.
- The presence of the Municipality with all its reach of services, its connections and its support of personnel, facilities and resources is an utmost important leverage for implementation.
Main activities of the Good Practice
The main activity categories have been protection, informal education and social cohesion with the aim to empower women, vulnerable women in particular, through whatever their need is; be it lack of language skills, a way to earn income or traumas counselling.
Our protection activities started out with seminars, counselling, case management, legal counselling, awareness and advocacy sessions. WSC started later on to address the needs for women’s self-development and self-realization. More recent techniques such as art and dance therapy, family constellation, are used. Support groups for depression, stress management, caring for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), divorce issues and violence are also addressed.
Our social cohesion activities were more focused on making them feel better over special day celebration, exercise or simply excursions. In time we changed our approach and started including life skills courses and finally a cooking class which can lead to income possibilities for the women.
Our education activities focus on Turkish language and vocational training. Our language training partner is TÖMER for the more contemporary and efficient teaching methods based on speaking rather than mastering grammar before speaking. We offered several different vocational courses like hair styling, jewellery design, textile, natural soap & cologne production.
As for sustainability, we started teaching a skill, encouraging to find employment, then decided it suits their needs better to guide for home based working options. As we gained more experience and developed a better understanding of the difficulties and barriers they are faced with, we helped them start a women’s cooperative as a more effective and sustainable way to earn.
- GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), funded by BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) and ECHO (European Union, through its Humanitarian Aid Operations department), is the main implementing partner in projects carried out at the Women Solidarity Centre.
However, it should be noted that the WSC has on-going and close cooperation with several NGOs as well as State institutions. To name a few:
- Directorate General of Migration Management, Migrant Health Centres, Adana Metropolitan Municipality, District Directorate of National Education, Directorate of National Education, Public Education Centres, Cancer Early Diagnosis and Screening Training Centres (KETEM), ŞÖNİM, Cukurova University, TEKNOKENT, Turkish Red Crescent, GOAL, CARE International, RESLOG, SENED, IOM, ASAM/SGDD, Seyhan Social Assistance Foundation, Mavi Kalem Derneği, Red Umbrella Association (Kırmızı Şemsiye Derneği) and Support to Life Association.
Challenges and how they were overcome
The COVID-19 pandemic and the pursuant restrictions/lockdowns had the most profound effect on Centre activities in throughout its service years.
How they were overcome
To overcome this we improved on our use of online methods. In the end, the challenge provided us with the opportunity to improve our skill set and expand our reach. We are now much more active on Instagram, in the process of starting a YouTube Channel, and still designing a website more fit for an NGO working with women.
Results of the Good Practice
Numbers given below are from 01.12.2018 till 31.03.2020:
- 1.280 protection services - Reaching 2.216 unique individuals
- 118 social cohesion activities - Reaching 1.145 unique individuals
- 22 Turkish language courses of A1, A2 and B1 level - Reaching 476 unique individuals; 570 certifications
- 30 vocational courses (Sewing, Natural Soap & Cologne Production, Jewellery Making, Hair Styling, Computer & Office Programs) - Reaching 523 unique individuals; 623 certifications
- 20 life skills courses (Art and Ceramics) - Reaching 182 unique individuals; 232 certifications
- 1.761 food kits, 1.908 hygiene kits and 1.222 stationery kits and other non-food packages distributed to beneficiaries
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
The objective of the project is to improve the self-resilience and employment opportunities of women by facilitating their economic empowerment through self-employment or work-from-home models.
Seyhan Municipality decided to concentrate on protection activities to trigger a normalization rather than emphasizing the refugee status of the beneficiaries. To normalize the refugee situation and start addressing women as women regardless of their nationality/status. To achieve that we will be helping them self-explore their desires as much as their needs, problems and traumas. We will provide them the opportunities to see and bond with each other on a deeper level without emphasizing the differences or vulnerabilities. We will concentrate on offering a different set of tools with a wider perspective to help them feel they are entering a supporting environment for all women, not only for refugees. We will be incorporating several therapy techniques to address issues determined through prior experience and need analysis research. Meanwhile, we will make use of these techniques to surface traumas related to being a refugee without directly addressing being a refugee as a vulnerability.
Project continues with:
- Language courses with Turkish Language Learning Centre (TÖMER) for offering a more valid certification in employment and education opportunities.
- Vocational courses continue with the vision of creating more professional products to be marketed and even becoming a brand.
- A cooking course is added to our vocational course repertoire in this new term, which also serves a protection service by providing food to predetermined families in need.
- Life skills courses evolved into skills which generate income for beneficiaries.
- A women’s cooperation is established with the support of the Municipality to offer a mechanism and legal framework to market the products of our beneficiaries.
- Protection activities continue with a slightly changed strategy, aiming at overcoming the sense of living as a refugee through addressing the problems as addressed with host community women with vulnerabilities (Offering more contemporary approaches like Art Therapy, Dance Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, Family Constellation...)