Work accelerates on establishing a Women’s Cooperative in Gaziantep

KooperatifTraining on “Leadership and Organisation for Refugee and Local Women” was delivered in the context of establishing a Women’s Cooperative aimed under the project “Strengthening the Resilience of Syrian Women and Girls” being implemented in Gaziantep jointly by UN Women, ILO and ASAM.

The training held on 12-15 February at GESOB Seminar Hall with support from the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work (KEDV) drew a participation of 49 beneficiaries in total, who would assume roles in establishing the cooperative, including 37 Syrians, 11 Turks, and 1 Afghan from the workshops on shoe-upping, textiles and packaging, as well as participants of the training courses on Turkish language, computer operating, basic make-up and hair-dressing. Including participants from the Tomorrow’s Women Committee, the training proceeded in interactive methods to impart knowledge on the basic concepts of collective work and production such as communications, leadership, common goals, vision.

The first day of the four-day training covered Communications and Leadership. The women participants first introduced themselves and shared how they dreamed of themselves. Most participants dreamed themselves as a star, sun, butterfly and ant; while one dreamed herself as a lioness because she stood strong despite all challenges of life. The training focused on the importance of communications in human relations, particularly referring to tone, being a good listener, body language as expressing ourselves. Barriers to communications were also covered; and role plays were acted on such barriers to communication as giving orders, directing, intimidating, persistently asking questions, persistently supporting, being judgmental, lecturing on morals, and mocking. Communication-oriented plays were experienced where the barriers to communication might lead to defence, frustration and imbalance in mental state.

The second day focused on gender division of work where women’s problems, needs and solutions were discussed. The session started with the question “Where are we women in the society?”, then proceeded with group works discussing women’s problems and access to basic services. The session covered how the gendered division of work imposed further challenges and burdens on women’s lives, and participants shared own life experiences.

The third day started with the discussion of “vision” around the question “what kind of a leader am I in my life?” A leader’s attributes were narrated as stories, and the participants were asked to exemplify persons whom they viewed as leaders, thus making a list of attributes expected of a leader. A group work was conducted to define women’s aspired station in future (visions) and identify what and how they were doing today to achieve that vision. Accordingly, women were divided into five groups, each drawing a picture in response to their specific question. The first group drew a picture in an endeavour to answer the question “How would you like to see the world in 5 years? What is your vision?” The second group similarly sought to answer the question “How would you like to see your province in 5 years?” The third group likewise drew a picture to answer the question “How would you like to see your neighbourhood in 5 years?”, where as the fourth group did the same for their environment. Finally, the fifth group drew a picture of where and how they would see women in 5 years. Groups’ pictures were shared with other participants, with colourful works and enthusiastic narratives emerging. The first group, i.e. answering the question “How would you like to see the world in 5 years?” drew a picture of a woman and a man hand-in-hand, accompanied by a script of solidarity and equality; a “child bride” drawn with an x mark on it, and the same girl was depicted as going to school. The pictures by groups focused on equality, brotherhood and peace.

The last day of the training featured a discussion around “How should we define the common goal?” to draw up a plan of action towards establishing he cooperative. The needs of women living in Gaziantep were written on stickers in categories of primary, secondary and tertiary needs; and problems and needs were discussed. Accordingly, the following were identified as basic problems of women: economic freedom, challenge of livelihood, high unemployment, financial problems, high rents and utility bills, needs for coal, language problems and needs for interpreters at hospitals and schools, travel permission and identity card problems, domestic violence and early marriage. Basic needs that might help solve problems were identified as money, common spaces, childcare centres, trainers, psychologists, business plans, interpreters and vision. Interactive role plays held to show how women would request support from public agencies to solve their problems; and participants staged an activity where the women intending to establish a cooperative requested support from local administrators.