IT schemes aim to save Syrian refugee women from early marriage
ISTANBUL – Anadolu AgencyYoung Syrian refugee women have two choices in life: Either be pushed into an early marriage or jump into one.
But a new initiative is aiming to add a third option: A career in IT.
“Either their parents marry them off at 13 to somebody or they marry the boy next door because they are being forced out of the [refugee] tent,” said Hugh Bosely, founder and executive director of RBK, a Silicon Valley-based non-profit organization that teaches coding to Syrian refugees in Jordan. Training Syrians aged between 14 and 42 years old for 16 weeks, Bosely said his organization specifically looks for young women in order to prevent them from entering into premature marriages.
Out of 1,000 Syrian applicants for the coding program, only 40 people are accepted and 60 percent are women, Bosely told Anadolu Agency, speaking on the sidelines of the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul.
“They could eventually go to college but this is a way to [cut] the need to get married,” he added.
Bosely said his company also wants to train Syrian refugees in Turkey but it has yet to find a local partner.
“We haven’t yet been introduced to any Turkish investors or people that might want to see this education happening in Turkey. In Jordan it has the power to raise the GDP by 10 percent in five years. That’s how powerful it is,” he added.
As part of a pilot project, the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has been teaching special coding courses to more than 3,000 children aged between 7 and 12. They are expected to graduate in June.
Coding - computer programing - is telling a computer what you want it to do, typing a set of commands for the machine to follow.
Other coding courses for refugees in Turkey are set to take place in October this year, said Claire Gillissen-Duval, the director of Corporate Social Responsibility Europa, Middle East, and Africa at SAP, a multinational software corporation.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Gillissen-Duval said the Refugee Coding Week program - which is based on another initiative African Coding - launched on May 23.
The project will take place between Oct. 15 and Oct. 23 across four specific countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt.
“What we would love to do is empower young adults from the urban-refugee and camp-refugee communities and give them the skills that they need,” Gillissen-Duval told Anadolu Agency, adding that those people would eventually join companies that have a shortage of skilled IT workers.