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SADA Women’s Development and Solidarity Center

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Feb 11, 2020 / 0 Comments

SADA Women’s Development and Solidarity Center’s overall goal is to support the social and economic stabilization of refugee women, and to contribute to their self-reliance and ability to co-exist with women from the host community by creating a women-only center that provides services to Syrian and host community women.


Lead Authority or Organization: Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality and UN Women 

Area: Gaziantep, Turkey

Beneficiaries: Syrian and host community women, girls, and children

Timeline: August 2017 – ongoing

Human Resources: Project manager, project associate together with necessary staff in the center (ASAM), trainers (ILO) and women’s empowerment consultants (UN Women).

Funding Amount: $1 million

Source of Funding: Government of Japan


Context and Challenges

Gaziantep Municipality is one of the Turkish cities most affected by the refugee influx deriving from the Syrian crisis, hosting more than 400,000 refugees. The massive influx of refugees to Turkey has had an enormous impact on local communities. As a consequence, Gaziantep has experienced a huge pressure and demand on municipal services, infrastructures, human resources, and budget. Tensions between Syrian refugees and the host community are increasing, and participation of Syrians in the labor market is low, especially among women, thus resulting in a lack of self-sustainability and the need for external support. 


Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality’s Migration Policy has a humanitarian and resilience approach based on gender equality, social justice, and human rights. The Municipality has responded to the Syrian crisis through providing various kinds of support, from ensuring basic needs, to finding creative ways to enhance integration, providing education, employment, health services, social services, and humanitarian aid. Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality puts high emphasis on trying to eliminate the negative socio-economic effects of this global crisis, with both short-term and long-term actions to provide an immediate response.


In this framework, the creation of SADA Women’s Development and Solidarity Center aims to mitigate social tensions in the society, support the social and economic inclusion of refugee women, and contribute to their self-reliance and ability to co-exist with women from the host community. 


The women-only center provides women from the Syrian and host community with: 

  • A protected social space with childcare, referral services and language, vocational, and empowerment skills development; 
  • A platform for dialogue, co-existence and the development of joint empowerment activities in Gaziantep, Turkey.


Actions and Reported Results

The project went through the following steps: 

  • Outreach program. Design of an outreach program to the most marginalized and vulnerable women in the community, implemented for Syrian refugee women in the area, encouraging them to use the services provided in the center.
  • Spatial accessibility and gender perspective. Establishment of SADA Women’s Development and Solidarity Center in a building that is fully accessible, safe and secure for handicapped beneficiaries and children. A gender perspective is ensured in project activities together with women empowerment programs. 
  • Capacity building and trainings. Trainings for both Syrian and Turkish women and girls were carried out. Basic life and market-oriented vocational and technical training courses include: Turkish language courses (basic and advanced level), patient registration, packaging, hair dressing, and skin care. Courses aim at addressing the needs of the women, and are open according to the demand identified during outreach, and also according to local market needs. All courses are officially certified.
  • Mentoring and advisory services. A mentoring/role model system for empowerment of women is provided as well as legal advice on work permits and job security.


Reported Results

  • Increased refugee socio-economic inclusion and sustained livelihood. Refugee women have access to a women-only center that provides them with a protected social space, childcare, and referral services. Women are encouraged to join social life as well as the labor force and acquire necessary skills and knowledge to establish their own business. Their chances for economic stabilization and overall safety increases, while the risks of falling into poverty traps and resorting to exploitive informal labor markets decrease.
  • Increased refugee skills to match job demand. Refugee women and host country nationals residing in Gaziantep have gained necessary skills and knowledge to seek job opportunities.
  • Increased social cohesion between host and refugee populations. The projectg ave women a chance to meet and carry out joint activities by organizing women’s empowerment programs, supporting them to participate in dialogue meetings, social and cultural events, and to engage in common community level projects. Women from refugee and host communities are socially engaged with each other. The project contributed to diminishing negative stereotypes and enhancing long-term social cohesion and social stabilization.


Evidence and Beneficiary Feedback


The number of beneficiaries entering the center and using its services has far exceeded the original yearly target numbers, with over 1,800 registrations in two months. Women are explicitly sharing their wish to participate in further courses. The registration system in the center provides evidence for the number of women attending courses, their basic needs and vulnerabilities, referrals and participation in activities. Simultaneous monitoring and evaluation is being carried out, to be reported in the end of the project year.


What benefeciaries say:

“Greetings from Syrian women to Turkish women! It is a challenge for Syrian refugees to live in the community here, especially with women’s rights and education. For Sada Women’s Center, I want to say that every woman has dreamed of this center for a long time. I am participating in the patient registration course in the center. In here, I feel like a hopeful woman! I have a lot of fun here, where my Syrian and Turkish friends treat me and each other like sisters. I would like to thank Sada Women’s Center and its employees for their support and cooperation with us.”


Lessons Learned

Challenges and Risks

  • A needs assessment being carried out in seven cities in Turkey shows that some Syrian women are hesitant to participate in the labor market.
  • The number of Turkish beneficiaries is considerably lower in comparison with the Syrian beneficiaries. 
  • Based on consultation with the beneficiaries, transportation costs are a burden to beneficiaries, which may have a negative impact on sustainability of their course attendance.


Key Ingredients of Success

The project offers courses and trainings tailored to the needs of beneficiaries and to local labor market needs, thus securing its success for the long run.


Innovative Aspects

The project uses the local and international expertise and experience by bringing together the Municipality, UN Women, ASAM, and ILO to join forces in enhancing women empowerment and resilience. 

The innovative approach is demonstrated by the creation of a center with a holistic approach for women’s empowerment, integrating diverse services and approaches of socio-economic empowerment, protection, and social cohesion. 



  • Better ensure sustainability of the center and the activities being carried out by securing funding.
  • Build on best practices to open similar centers in other municipalities in Turkey and throughout the region.



The project is implemented by UN Women in partnership with the Gaziantep Municipality, Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM) and International Labor Organization (ILO), with funding from the Japanese Government. 


A local network was developed with the relevant local authorities, social service organizations, and the other UN institutions in the region, including UNHCR, IOM, and WFP.


This post is part of a series of case-studies published in the CMI 2018 Refugees' Compendium and featuring host communities experiences in hosting refugees with relation to local economic development. The information in-here was provided by focal points in the relevant institutions, NGOs, local governments, etc


Read the story on the compendium


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