SADA Women’s Cooperative aims to be model for future projects
Hazal Özcan – GAZİANTEP
SADA Women’s Cooperative, established to strengthen women’s empowerment and increase participation in the labor force, aims to be a model for future projects in this matter, the project’s coordinator has said.
“This project aims to strengthen Syrian women and young girls along with host societies via employment. It has been held as an example with its success. We believe this will progress as a model,” Bilge Çoban, an official from the International Labor Organization (ILO) in charge of coordinating SADA, told Hürriyet Daily News.
“We are working with Syrian women who lost their husbands at war, has a disabled child or a non-working spouse. Amongst women from Turkey, we are working with self-sustained divorced ones. We are not only working with women, we are working with aggrieved women too,” Çoban said.
The project actually aims to strengthen women having a hard time making ends meet, the coordinator added.
The SADA Women’s Cooperative kicked off on March 25, as 50 Turkish, Syrian and Afghan women joined forces to strengthen women’s empowerment in the southeastern province of Gaziantep.
SADA is a multi-partnered project of UN Women, ILO, Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (SGDD) and the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality. Its works started within the scope of “Strengthening the Resilience of Syrian Women and Girls Project.”
ILO’s part in the project is to support the establishment of such a cooperative and provide vocational trainings to women in a bid to increase accessibility to employment, Çoban conveyed.
“All experts have gathered, combining their areas of specialization, to create employment for these women,” she said.
All of the women have undergone some kind of vocational training, based on their abilities and skills, she added.
“After the vocational trainings, we provided capacity enhancement trainings as well,” she said. The capacity enhancement trainings Çoban was referring to includes providing details concerning the processes and functions of a cooperative, she said.
“SADA means voice, echo in Arabic. We wanted this cooperative to be the voice of women,” she added.
SADA has a board of eight members, who meet every week to discuss the developments, along with monthly meetings including all 50 members of the cooperative, the coordinator conveyed.
From textile to catering, the talented women hand-manufacture many products, working with the vocational schools of local universities, Çoban said.
“There is a wide range in orders, from home textile to cloth bags,” she added.
Turkey’s Trade Ministry also stepped in to the project, as officials from the ministry travel to Gaziantep and train women every other month on the details of the cooperative, according to Çoban.
The hand-made products actually shape via the stories of women, Çoban said.
“We are currently attempting to meet the demands at the local level. Then, this will be a cooperative in national and international markets,” she added.
SADA has earned its place in the Paris Peace Forum
The newly-established SADA’s success was actually not overlooked in the international community, even though the cooperative still works on a local level, and earned the right to be eligible to receive an award in the Paris Peace Forum, according to the project’s coordinator.
“[SADA] is among the top 100 projects regarding increasing women’s employment. In November, we will travel to Paris with the cooperative’s board to receive our award,” Çoban said.
“The more women get stronger and preponderate, the more we step back, and this makes us really happy,” she said.
“There are hundreds of projects in the field for the migrant crisis. Thus, in serving the societal peace and empowering women, SADA has a special place as a model,” she added.
As Turkish, Syrian and Afghan women work together, in a peaceful manner, they also give influential messages to societies, Çoban said.
“We can work, produce and get stronger together,” she added.