How widowed Syrian women are achieving new independence in the face of heartache

11 October 2019

The conflict in Syria has left increasing numbers of women as the breadwinners and heads of their households. In rural areas, female-headed households are even more vulnerable due to the scarcity of employment opportunities, the upcoming bitter winter is set to make conditions even worse.

In response to this issue, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), with support from the Japanese government, has developed a training programme for female food technicians as part the Women’s Empowerment project.

The project’s objective is to teach female food technicians methods of food production, for items such as jam, that can be easily adapted for women in rural areas. The food technicians then travel into the rural communities and share the knowledge. Razan Al Khoury, a technician at Rural Women Empowerment Department (RWED), explained how she was taught various techniques to make jams in a simple way which could be used in rural areas and with limited equipment. Razan has high expectations and is confident that “women will respond positively” to the shared knowledge.

Additionally, the FAO has also set up an intensive training programme which teaches food technicians about production standards, branding, marketing and bookkeeping.

With winter fast approaching, the more women who are able to make and sell products the better! Last year HART was able to provide jobs for 20 women over the winter facilitating the production of homemade goods to sell to their local communities. This year, we are hoping to double this number to 40 through our Syrian winter appeal.

Just a few of the products that have been produced by rural women.

The importance of initiatives for vulnerable women, such as the Women Empowerment project and HART’s winter appeal, cannot be understated. They provide an income, new skills and knowledge, opens up opportunity and enable these women to connect with a community that had once been destroyed. Initiatives like this also offer women an economic freedom that they have never experienced before.

Although the training and distribution of knowledge that RWED provides for women in rural areas is overwhelmingly positive, we also must remember that there are many who are not so lucky. With US troops withdrawing from north-east Syria, the fate of hundreds of thousands of women and children grows ever more unstable.

Bill Chambers, President and CEO of Save the Children Canada emphasised this point, stating that all “essential services including food, water, health, education, and protection must be consistently provided to all civilians, or we could see another humanitarian disaster unfold before our eyes.” He goes on to explain that more than 9,000 children rely completely on humanitarian aid and “any interruption to camp services which are already over stretched would put their lives at risk.”

This year, HART’s appeal is aiming to employ 40 women over the winter period

There are progressions in Syrian life to have hopes for, such as those women benefiting from the education through the Women’s Empowerment project and the benefits felt from the HART appeal, however, the past few days have reminded us that there is still so much urgent and essential work to be done to ensure that the innocent lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrians are saved.


If you wish to support Syrian women and their families this winter, click here to find out more and donate to our appeal!

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