Started Working in Türkiye
Direct Beneficiaries & Program Participants
(Women & Girls)
Since 2014, RET in Türkiye has touched the lives of over 300K direct beneficiaries, 70% female, and indirectly benefited around 3 million beneficiaries throughout 36 projects, focused on Protection, Economic Growth & Development (Women Socio-Economic Empowerment), Education & Capacity Building, Peace Stability & Transition (Youth programs & social cohesion), Gender Equality & Social Inclusion, and Basic Infrastructure and Equipment…
Since 2014, RET has conducted operations in eight provinces in Türkiye, including deep rural and urban areas, namely in Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Mardin, Kilis, Corum, Samsun, Ankara, and Istanbul.
The interventions in Türkiye have been centered around three pillars:
1) Enhancing the resilience of vulnerable groups with protection- focused approach (child protection, women protection, prevention of early forced marriages and child labor, prevention & mitigation of gender-based violence, safe spaces for young girls and adolescences, psychosocial support, legal counseling, life skills, language training programs, vocational training, sexual and reproductive health training, counseling and mentorship, and case management and referrals.)
2) Promoting the socio-economic empowerment and self-reliance of women through a holistic approach focusing on decent work and social integration (livelihoods, income generation, mentorship, business development, Entrepreneurship, networking, and value chain…)
3) Empowering youth to become agents for positive change through education & capacity building & youth empowerment programs (performing arts, community engagement, and youth ambassadorship, in addition to mainstreaming social cohesion.)
The capacity of 60 Women’s ‘Centers for Livelihoods’ has been built through infrastructural capacity strengthening, capacity building of their staff, and various life skills and income-generating activity programs.
RET in Türkiye sets up a national network of businesswomen to support local women’s income-generating projects in the provinces and Centers for Livelihoods.
RET is committed to enabling girls and young women affected by disasters, in fragile contexts and protracted crises by advancing the Sustainable Development Goals and the Decade of Action (SDGs 2030), in particular, decent work (SDG8), to live healthy lives and to promote wellbeing for all (SDG 3), and to advance gender equality and women & girls’ empowerment (SDG 5.)
Decent work is an essential element of the triple nexus RET is using and represents RET’s approach in mitigating the socio-economic adversities through (1) Employment & Income Generation Opportunities, (2) Enhancing Skills for Employability, and (3) Institution-building & Social Dialogue that can contribute to peace and resilience and (4) Enterprise/entrepreneurial; in tandem with raising awareness regarding gender-based violence & sexual and reproductive health matters. Türkiye’s socio-economic empowerment program addressed the needs of refugee and vulnerable local women and their families living in semi-urban and peripheral areas. Since 2015, more than six projects were implemented in the provinces of Mardin, Şanlıurfa, and Kilis and Çorum, enabling more than 25,000 women directly. Workshops in (1) Handmade Soap Production; (2) Natural Dolls Making Workshop, (3) Natural Dyeing and Wood Printing Workshops are offered to local and refugee women, supporting them in setting up small businesses to sell their handmade products and generate sustainable income.
In addition to vocational training, advanced technical training for women interested in setting up small local businesses is offered, providing them with knowledge on product design, marketing, and entrepreneurship skills. The projects decreased the vulnerability of refugee women through support mechanisms that would increase their employability and economic productivity and provide them with a more protective social environment. RET Partnered with multiple Development Agencies, Women Entrepreneurs Councils of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Türkiye, the Turkish Employment Agency, the Chambers of Commerce, and Industry, and with the directorates of several organized industrial sites to find relevant marketing solutions to brand the women’s products and advance their income-generating activities.
Young People as Agent of Change
Supporting the Role of Youth in Peacebuilding for Community Stabilization is another focus of RET’s Türkiye responses. It is in line with the government of Türkiye’s national strategy to facilitate social cohesion and community stabilization. It aimed to promote dialogue, respect, and understanding amongst youth and become actors of positive and peaceful change in their communities. These youth programs bridged the gap between youth across divides of ethnicity, religion, or nationality, and reduced the risk of marginalization, radicalization, and violence amongst young people while enabling them to be active and positive actors in their communities.
RET implemented various activities such as a structured life skills curriculum, with topics in line with young people’s needs, interests, and aspirations. Moreover, young people were meaningfully engaged by identifying, planning, and implementing small-to-medium- scale youth-led, social action projects in their respective communities aimed to mitigate intra- and inter-community tensions and conflicts.
Moreover, RET launched an innovative initiative to empower the youth through the cohesive power of Music, Dance, and the Arts. Two diverse intercultural music and dance ensembles were created, the RET Youth Orchestra and Choir and the RET Youth Dance Company. Both ensembles join Syrian and Turkish amateur musicians and dancers from within RET’s youth centers in southern Türkiye and use music and dance as tools to disseminate a culture of peace harmony and promote social cohesion. This accomplishment was further strengthened through a five years’ partnership with the prestigious “Haute école de musique de Genève – Neuchâtel” (Geneva HEM) (2018-2022), and with the inauguration of a RET center for Arts in Kızıltepe in Turkey.
In 2019 and 2020, RET stepped in to “Facilitate vulnerable individuals’ – host, refugee and asylum seekers – “Access to Services & Rights” in Çorum & Samsun” through a community-based approach conducive to reducing vulnerabilities. This project was initiated within the scope of the “Local Initiative Fund in Türkiye” “LIFT” Project, which is co-financed by the European Union through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and co-implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and RET in Turkey. RET used a community-based and center-based approaches, catering to different age brackets providing various services: Awareness Raising, Legal Counseling, Individual Counseling, Individual Protection Assistance- Early Identification and Safe Referral, Psychosocial Support (PSS), and Capacity Building Activity- Mainstreaming GBV in International Protection Forums.
RET believes that promoting/mainstreaming social cohesion and safeguarding social inclusion between refugee and host community members requires adopting a comprehensive gender-balanced approach that addresses the “Bridges and Barriers to Inclusion & Participation“: (1) the primary drivers of tension, (2) the structural vulnerabilities, (3) the power dynamics on different fronts (social, economic, and cultural) and their manifestations at (i) Microsystems Level (e.g., families, friends); (ii) Organizations Level (e.g., schools, workplaces); (iii) Localities Level (e.g., neighborhoods, towns, hard-to-reach rural areas); and (iv) Macrosystems Level (e.g., cultures, governments, social mediums, belief systems) The aim of the program implemented in 2020, was to strengthen the employment prospects of Syrian refugees and members of the host community in the provinces and municipalities hosting high numbers of refugees; enabling the target groups and their families, especially vulnerable households, to generate income in short to medium term, while at the same time stabilizing the host communities and promoting peaceful coexistence between Syrian refugees and the local population. RET’s Social Cohesion Strategy is aligned with the Council of Europe Action Plan for Social Cohesion and aims primarily at helping vulnerable beneficiaries (a) Regain a sense of normalcy; (b) Feel emotionally and socioeconomically empowered and socially accepted through custom-tailored interventions; (c) Improve their overall wellbeing (being a multidimensional concept); (d) expanding social network(s) and participation in the public sphere, beyond the prevailing societal limitations and restrictions imposed; and finally (e) celebrating and embracing cultural diversity.
In 2021, RET is implementing the project “Turkish and English Language Learning Program as a tool for Empowerment and Social Cohesion.” The project aims to empowering youth and women refugees by bridging the language divide and advancing social cohesion, and increasing their participation in the public sphere. RET aimed to integrate adolescent, youth, and women refugees and support social cohesion through Turkish and English language learning classes in Mardin, Kilis, Şanlıurfa, Ankara, and Çorum. In collaboration with “Liela” a charitable foundation supported by Liechtenstein’s Government, RET will prepare and adapt the Turkish and English language learning materials as part of a “language mediation project” within the Liechtenstein Language program. RET will also provide Training of Trainers (ToT) of English and Turkish language courses and Turkish Language Classes, as well as English Language Classes for refugees in Mardin, Sanlıurfa, Kilis, Ankara, and Çorum. This project will enhance social cohesion by facilitating the communication between two communities by establishing trust, value sharing, and social integration, thanks to offering language learning programs. In addition to that, refugees will rely on others/translators for their daily tasks because of the language barrier. Through this program, refugees will be able to benefit from social services like health or education or legal services more timely and efficiently.
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