Fashion saves women
MELİS ALPHAN ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
As part of the project, eight of Turkey’s leading fashion designers, in close cooperation with women in the southeastern region, are preparing products to be sold in big stores.
Implemented jointly by the GAP Regional Development Administration (GAP RDA) and the UNDP, with financing from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the “Innovations for Women’s Empowerment in the GAP Region Project” is gathering its products under the Argande brand.
The project aims to boost the economic prospects for women in the Southeast Anatolia region, increasing women’s participation in labor markets, re-branding the area, and creating innovative sales and marketing opportunities.
As part of the project, eight of Turkey’s leading fashion designers, under the coordination of Hatice Gökçe and in close cooperation with women in the region, are preparing products to be sold in big stores.
The products coming out of the women’s atelier are now being marketed with a visibility program, combining the creativity of southeastern women with fashion designers and their activities in Istanbul and other places in Turkey.
A field visit was conducted in Mardin and Batman in order to select producer women and conduct feasibility work. Some 35 women with machinery skills were chosen, and a group of women was also chosen for the knitting atelier in Mardin. A machinery park was set up in the Batman atelier, with the technical support of an expert from the Istanbul Textile and Apparel Exporters’ Association (ITKIB).
All establishments and individuals support the Argande brand voluntarily, with a sense of social responsibility. Argande products are offered for sale with the voluntary support of retailer Mudo, at the 15 biggest Mudo stores in 7 provinces.
Some 200 women in Turkey’s Southeast Anatolia region have been working at producing this collection for the past 6 seasons. The women draw inspiration for their designs from traditional Anatolian motifs such as myths, spring festival ceremonies, wedding traditions and nature.
The project has changed the lives of hundreds of women in the region, where the basic development indicators for women today are bleak, and violence against them all too prevalent. Argande aims to bring an integrated approach to women’s empowerment in both social and economic life. The project has increased women’s participation in social life, improved their capacity to exercise their rights, connected them to the outside world and improved their business skills.
With the women having clearly generated more income with the project’s support, this increase in income has led to an improvement in their family’s status as well as their individual status in society.
Among them, there are women who have ended up being the first and only breadwinner in their family with the income they generate, resulting in a stronger say in their families and in society. Similarly, there are a number of women who had a chance to send their children to schools for the first time with the income they generate through Argande sales.
By pursuing the project, Argande has become a reference icon for solving the social and economic problems of women in the GAP region.