New Project Launch – MALI – Empowering Vulnerable Women & Youth

RET officially launched its new project in Mali to address Food Insecurity, Peaceful Relations and Economic Interdependence among the Affected Communities.

Project Title: 

Improved Livelihoods and Food Security through Training in Climate-Adaptive Agriculture, Handicrafts, and Peaceful Relations and Economic Interdependence among Communities. (2022-2025)

Insecurity, high population growth, weak infrastructure, and low levels of human capital hinder Mali’s economic development.[1] Mali has one of the youngest populations in the world, with a median age of 16.2 years[2].About 18% of the Malian population, and/or3.8 million people suffer from food and nutrition insecurity of which 600,000 are in an emergency state. 42% of the national population lives below the poverty line,[3] and 24% of Malian children are chronically malnourished. The Ségou region is located in the Sudanese agro-ecological zone of Mali, which is characterized by chronic food insecurity and malnutrition, exacerbated by the effects of climate change and violence.  

In recent years, the Segou region hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees from the neighbouring Mopti region following recurrent attacks on villages and towns. Since the beginning of the conflicts, insecurity has led to the internal displacement of more than 350,000 people, (61% children, and 56% women) mainly in the northern and central regions of Mopti, Gao, Segou Timbuktu and Ménaka. [4] Farmers, particularly IDPs/returnees, women, and young people, lack knowledge of climate-resilient techniques like soil quality restoration and improvement, water mobilization techniques, adapted seed varieties, and cropping practices, among others; producers have few opportunities or platforms for sharing experiences and deepening their knowledge on successful climate change adaptation strategies.
Affected communities have experienced severe losses to their productive resources as a result of ongoing wars.Consequently, they have little or no money to (re)invest in trade, agriculture, or livestock. Female-headed households (FHHH), young people, and those in multi-dimensional poverty, in particular, do not have easy access to finance.

Since December 2022, RET started to implement a project that aims to empower vulnerable women and youth socially and economically by promoting economic independence through training and participation in local committees/decision-making platforms and strengthening peaceful community relations the Segou region, namely in the counties of Segou, Macina, and Bla. Eleven municipalities are targeted by the project interventions, namely Pélengana, Sébougou, Sakoiba, Cinzana, Segou, Monimpébougou and Boky-wère, Macina, as well as Touna, Diéna, and Bla.

“Kick Off” workshop with stakeholders and partners in Mali!

In March 2023, RET organized a “Kick Off” workshop with stakeholders and partners in Mali to mark the project’s launch officially. Through the workshop, RET highlighted the context of the project, its objectives, the expected results, and outcomes with stakeholders, including the Malian Government Administration, Partners, Communities, and Targeted Groups. The workshop created opportunities for exchange early to ensure a constructive dialogue on the project’s implementation strategies. Many high-level guests attended the workshop, including representatives of regional and local state structures, the regional council president, the mayor of Ségou, and the mayors and official representatives of the other municipalities targeted by the project interventions.

The project aims to empower vulnerable women and youth socially and economically by promoting economic independence through training and participation in local committees/decision-making platforms and strengthening peaceful community relations.

This will be achieved through three pillars:

Employability and Income-Generating Opportunities: Improving the employability and income opportunities for youth-at-risk and vulnerable young women through enhanced vocational training and supporting them in entering the labour market and starting small businesses, in coordination with government agencies and local businesses.
RET will implement activities such as:

  • Building the institutional capacity of “Apprenticeship Structures”, including local enterprises, through quality vocational training, targeting specifically the staff from the Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment Promotion (EFP) and other relevant government bodies with technical support to improve the planning, delivery, and management of vocational skills in Segou, as well as the training and support of 48 local companies to participate in the vocational training program and organize apprenticeships, and finally setting up and strengthening three vocational training centers to provide quality vocational training. 
  • Providing vocational training courses in skilled and technical occupations, including apprenticeship and practical training and mentoring to more than 475 vulnerable youth and young women from multiple ethnic and minority groups, including people with disabilities and or households with disabled family members).
  • Providing training in “Small-business Management and Counselling” to find employment or start income-generating activities to 475 youth-at-risk and vulnerable young women, as well as providing start-up assistance (microcredit) and support for the creation of at least 40 income-generating activities/small businesses and support their market integration.

Food Security: Improving the food security of vulnerable youth and young women through more home-grown food and climate-smart agricultural practices and cooperatives. To achieve this, RET will implement activities such as:

  • Providing training courses in” Climate-sensitive Agriculture” in 8 fields targeting 765 young people and vulnerable young women in the first year. Also, the construction/rehabilitation of 8 wells/boreholes to provide water to these fields.
  • Providing Business Management Courses and start-up grants to 765 youth-at-risk and supporting them in setting-up 25 agricultural cooperatives for the production and processing of goods and/ or support existing cooperatives. 

Peaceful Community Relations: Improving peaceful community relations of vulnerable groups, such as youth at risk of being recruited by militias and integrating them into the local community and economy. To achieve this, RET will implement activities such as:

  • Providing conflict-prevention-oriented life skills courses and gender-specific life skills courses to 1,240 youth-at-risk and vulnerable young women to prepare for their integration into vocational training and business courses.
  • Establishing, strengthening and training 17 “Conflict Mediation Committees”, including minority groups, to promote social cohesion among different ethnic groups and communities and raise awareness of 17,000 community members for peaceful inter-communal relations and economic cooperation.
  • Organizing 25 peace projects and dialogue events with the participation of different municipalities and promoting inter-municipal dialogue and social cohesion training. This activity will directly involve 900 community members in implementing peace projects and dialogue events and in organizing 34 recreational activities, reaching 3400 community members to participate in inter-community recreational activities during the three years.

The project will reach more than 5,807 direct beneficiaries, including targeting more than 1240 vulnerable young people and young women from multiple ethnic and minority groups, strengthening the institutional capacity of government partners employees, and building the capacity of vocational training centers and local companies’ employees. The project will also support and train more than 190 members of the committees on conflict mediation and involve 900 community members in peace projects, and, finally, target more than 3400 participants in recreational activities. The project will indirectly reach more than 27,300 beneficiaries, including 17,000 community members and 6,200 family members of youth-at-risk and young women, in a three-year implementation cycle from 2022-2025.

Project Outline


[2] USAID, 2018

[3] World Bank, Development Indicators, 2019  

[4] UNHCR, 2022

Addressing the Multidimensional Barriers to Girls’ Education in Niger

Addressing the Multidimensional Barriers to Girls’ Education in Niger

Niger is among the world’s countries with the lowest girls’ enrolment, retention, and school completion rates. According to UNICEF, 2.5 million children and adolescents are out of school.[1] 5 Only 19% of girls in rural areas complete primary education. This number drops to a worrying 8% among the poorest communities. The low female education rates directly translate to long-term gender inequality and systematic social and economic disempowerment of women[2]

A complex range of barriers prevents the fulfillment of girls’ rights to education in Niger, including harmful social beliefs, norms, and practices and a lack of recognition of the importance of girls’ education. Moreover, conservative and traditional women’s roles are associated with religious beliefs. Finally, girls undergo a heavy burden of domestic labor and are exposed to early marriage and teenage pregnancy

Niger has the highest child marriage prevalence rate in the world according to UNICEF, with 76% of girls married before the age of 18 and 28% married before they turn 15 years old.[3] The link between education and the prevalence of child marriage is particularly evident in Niger: 81% of women aged 20-24 with no education and 63% with only primary education were married or in a union at the age of 18, compared to only 17% of women with secondary education or higher.[4]

In 2017, the government raised the mandatory school leaver’s age for girls to 16 – but much work remains to be done to change conservative social norms that prevent girls from accessing education and women from being socially and economically empowered. Acute poverty prevents families from paying school-related costs for girls, and insecurity puts girls at risk on their commute to school in Tillaberi, effectively preventing their attendance.  

Moreover,  schools are insufficiently prepared to provide a safe and conducive environment for girls to be educated. Teachers lack training not only on basic pedagogy but also on the concept of gender-sensitive education and creating safe schools for girls. There is a lack of female teachers as role models for providing girl-sensitive psychosocial support and life skills education. Classrooms are overcrowded and poorly equipped, and there are insufficient education materials to create a quality learning environment.   

Since 2021, RET Germany, in partnership with the local non-governmental organization “SongES” – Soutien aux ONG à l’Est et au Sud Niger- has been implementing a project to promote access and retention of girls in quality primary and secondary education, coupled with social and economic empowerment of women for inclusive and peaceful development in the Tillabéri Region. The project is implemented in the three localities of Sakoira, Hamdallaye, and Tamou in the Tillabéri region, targeting ten schools (Seven primary schools and three colleges).

Education, particularly the education of girls, is one of the primary three outcomes of the project. The education component encompasses a range of activities intended to facilitate access to and retention of girls in schools. 

In 2022, RET opened 12 accelerated learning centers in 10 schools in the three communes of Hamdallaye, Sakoira, and Tamou.The locations were chosen not only because of the high number of drop-outs and non-enrollment of girls but the willingness of parents to enroll their kids, especially young girls in schools, the community’s commitment to the construction of spaces serving as classrooms, the commitment of the community to provide accommodation for the facilitators, the facilitation and involvement of school support structures. 

Accelerated Learning Centers in rural areas
During this first year of implementation (2022), RET reached and enrolled 352 children (out of 900), including 286 girls and 66 boys, in the accelerated learning centers. Out of the 352 students enrolled, 177 were cases of drop-outs, and 175 children were out-of-schools. These numbers include children with disability and internally displaced children. The attendance rate of learners recorded in the 12 centers is 95%. Following the five months of regular teaching, students from the 12 accelerated learning centers were evaluated, with a 70% success rate. A total of 235 students (183 girls and 52 boys) were transferred to the 4th grade in the formal education system (CE2) and 104 students to the 3rd grade of the formal education system (CE1).

Rouheimatou’s Story
Rouheimatou is a 12-year-old girl who benefited from the accelerated learning courses organized by RET in Niger. Coming from the village of Kolondia in Hamdallaye, Rouheimatou did not have the opportunity to attend a school like her peers. Her father, who was the only provider for the family, left in an exodus several years ago. This departure greatly disturbed and affected Rouheimatou. While her mother wanted her to attend school, she did not. With the opening of the Accelerated Learning Center by RET and SongES, Rouheimatou agreed to enroll along with 30 other out-of-school children at Birni Kolondia. 
Rouheimatou was not attending classes regularly and was absent because of the precarious living conditions she was living with her family; she felt frustrated. Having noted these repeated absences, the field facilitator visited Rouheimatou and her mother at home. They discussed at length the importance of attending the courses to facilitate the integration into formal education and the impact of education on the living conditions of the family and the community. Despite her recurrent absences at the beginning, she has now become a regular student. She is currently one of the best students to read and write among her peers, as per the testimony of her teachers.

Building the capacity of teachers to provide an enabling and safe environment for girls’ education
The teachers, recruited from local areas, were provided with numerous training, including the accelerated learning methodology and training on pedagogy following a “Child-Friendly Quality School approach.” Moreover, training on Gender-Sensitive Teaching Approach (GSTA), Child Protection (CP), Gender-based Violence (GVB), and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH), including identification and referral of cases of violence (sexual, child marriage, etc.) and menstrual hygiene management, were also provided, coupled with topics on School Safety, especially for girls, Covid-19 Protocols, Peace-building and conflict resolution, life skills, establishing and monitoring of school committees…etc. RET has built the capacity of 114 (out of 174) local teachers and educational supervisors.  

Within the accelerated learning program, a psychosocial support component for teachers was included to reduce the stress experienced by teachers as a result of the unstable security situation and potentially assess traumatic experiences amongst the education staff. RET developed a methodological note for trainers’ psychosocial activities and training modules and supported more than 30 teachers, including 19 female and 11 male teachers, with monthly psychosocial support sessions to date. 

Community Engagement is key
RET trained and supported pre-established community school committees to manage and monitor schools and established new committees at ten primary and secondary schools, as well as established Girl’s Clubs.  
The committees, including the “Decentralized Management Committee for Schools – Primary,” the “Management Committee for Secondary Establishments,” the “Association of Educating Mothers,” and the “Association of Parents of Students” are key to participating in the management and monitoring of schools and in guaranteeing engagement of the members of the communities and ownership over the project’s objective to promote education and girls education. 
The committees are responsible for sensitizing and training the populations for the promotion of schooling in general and education of girls in particular; developing the school’s internal regulations; acquisition and/or reception as well as in the management of textbooks and school supplies; ensuring preventive maintenance of school infrastructure; follow-up and attendance of teachers in collaboration with heads of establishments and administrative staff…etc., amongst other responsibilities. 
The “Association of Educating Mothers” is responsible for training and sensitizing the population in favor of the promotion of girls’ education; regularly monitoring the performance of students, especially girls; improving access and retention of students in school by providing them with a safe environment for learning; contributing to the organization of complementary courses and reinforcement of students’ knowledge; raising awareness on early marriage and early pregnancy of girls; undertaking actions aimed at improving access and retention in school for students in general and girls in particular. 

The mapping and analysis of existing committees have identified six student committees in 6 primary schools, also called “School Government,” and the establishment of additional committees in Birni Kolondia primary school and two committees at secondary school. Sixty-nine students make up the seven school governance committees, including 24 girls. 

In addition to the multiple school committees established and trained, RET set up ten girls’ clubs in 10 schools, engaging 100 girls at CE level (3rd year of primary school). The girls’ clubs will serve as a reference and a support group for girls’ education. The girls, members of the clubs, will organize regular activities, including study sessions, and raise awareness on hygiene and health-related topics amongst their peers at schools.

Infrastructure and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
To increase schools’ capacities to take on additional students and to reduce the ratio of students per classroom, RET is planning to construct and/or rehabilitate classrooms. Moreover, appropriate WASH facilities are essential for girls’ safe and healthy school participation. RET plans to build restrooms, rehabilitate pipelines, and ensure access to water in schools as of 2023. RET completed its infrastructure needs assessment in the ten targeted schools and conducted several field visits. The needs assessment aimed not only to identify the needs for the construction/rehabilitation of the infrastructures but also to initiate dialogue with stakeholders on this work’s relevancy. 

The need for additional classrooms is crucial, with three out of ten schools not having classrooms constructed out of durable materials, while four do not have WASH Facilities. RET intends to support the construction/rehabilitation of 20 classrooms, nine blocks of hygienic, safe, accessible, and gender-separated WASH facilities, nine borehole wells, and fences to increase school safety for students, especially girls. 

RET has been distributing and repairing school furniture to improve the students’ learning environment. One hundred eighty benches, 12 easel boards, and 12 desks and chairs for teachers/facilitators in the centers have already been distributed to date in 10 schools hosting the 12 accelerated learning centers. 

To ensure maintenance of the school furniture in the upcoming years, 18 young people from the community were selected to undertake training on repairing tables and benches. They will be provided with the necessary tools and materials to conduct the repairs. 

As of the school year 2022- 2023, RET is planning to distribute in-kind educational materials such as textbooks, recreational and sports kits, and other school materials, including WASH and hygiene kits and Covid-19 protective equipment to schools, while providing vulnerable girls (6-18 years old, from multiple ethnic groups, including nomadic tribes, with a priority given to girls with disabilities) with individual educational kits including uniforms, backpacks, books, stationery) and solar lamps to be able to study in the evenings. Finally, Two thousand three hundred ninety girls aged 10 to 18 of multiple ethnicities will be identified to be provided with menstrual hygiene kits and will be trained on sexual and reproductive health and menstrual hygiene management. Priority will be given to girls with disabilities and vulnerable girls. 

An enabling environment to facilitate access and retention of girls in the targeted schools!
RET is actively working towards the retention of girls in schools. 27 teachers responsible for conducting remedial, refresher, and exam preparation courses have been identified and trainedin the ten targeted schools, including 22 women to take part in training.In addition to the 27 teachers identified, 6 school principals took part in these training sessions to ensure close monitoring of the activities carried out by the teachers at the level of each school. The training aimed to strengthen the capacities of female teachers for better organization of refresher courses on the school program and the teaching approaches used to benefit female students; build the capabilities of female teachers for a better organization of remedial classes and exam preparation sessions to help female students; build the capacities of female teachers for a better assessment of student achievements to detect the shortcomings of girls; build the capabilities of female teachers for better monitoring of girls in the process of improving their weaknesses.

The remedial courses have been organized outside of school hours on a rota of two sessions per week and 3 hours per session. 545 female students benefitted from the remedial classes and exam preparation sessions to date. 

Finally, 54 female mentors are identified and assigned to provide individual advice and support to female students. The selection of women mentors was conducted in partnership with the general assemblies with representatives of town halls, school administration, teaching staff, traditional authorities, and members of the school support structures. To better accomplish their missions, the women mentors were trained on multiple topics, including responsibilities as mentors, relationships of trust, communication, strategies for identifying girls’ emotional and academic difficulties, and school follow-up for girls. The training were provided by the focal points of the ministry of education and the regional directorate of national education of Tillabéri.

One hundred sixty-two girls, including 63 in primary and 99 in secondary schools, were identified as vulnerable girls at risk of dropping out and benefitted from the female mentorship program this year. They received counseling, tutoring, and personalized support. 

This project proposes complementary interventions that systematically address the multidimensional barriers to girls’ education while simultaneously promoting women’s social and economic empowerment by establishing cooperatives and promoting income-generation activities. Twenty cooperatives have been set up under multiple sectors identified by beneficiaries to date. The women, members of the cooperatives will receive capacity building in various topics to better conduct their activities. To date, 1,000 women have been identified to join the cooperatives. 

Working with the communities is the third pillar of this project. RET, in partnership with SongEs, will involve communities through sensitization on the importance of girls’ education and women’s empowerment with a focus on engaging traditional and religious leaders. Thirty-six traditional and religious leaders and seven chiefs of villages from the three communities will be sensitized on the importance of girls’ education and will be involved in preventing early marriage in their communities. 

This project is made possible with the generous support of the Republic of Germany and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

[1] UNICEF, Annual Report Niger,

[2] 2019,  


[4] UNICEF,  

8 UNFPA/UNICEF, Ending Child Marriage in Niger, 2020,  

RET won the “Prize of Excellence” for its work with child soldiers and the communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo 

Sunday, September 11th, 2022, RET Germany was awarded the “Prize of Excellence” by the Association Sans But Lucratif (ASBL) “Tous vers un-Congo Nouveau”, (T.C.N) -All towards a new Congo- for its work with child soldiers since 2012 in DRC. During the ceremony, multiple awards were distributed to individuals and non-profit organizations working to promote youth empowerment and improve the living conditions of vulnerable communities in North Kivu. 

RET was awarded the prize for its Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration (DDR) interventions in the DRCongo, and the impact of its holistic programs on vulnerable communities.  

Since 2012, RET has implemented its programs targeting adolescent child soldiers in South Kivu (2012-2014) in conflict zones such as Fizi and Kalehe, and North Kivu (2015-2020), in the Walikale, Rutshuru, and Masisi zones with programs meant to reintegrate former adolescent combatants back into their communities while preventing future recruitment.  

RET DDR intervention begins with the prevention and sensitization of communities, and reaching out to armed group leaders through grassroots partners using a participatory approach. RET’s approach also involves preventing the recruitment of children and youth into armed groups by targeting key stakeholders and community members with specific training and awareness-raising activities. Following the demobilization phase, former child soldiers are integrated into RET’s rehabilitation centers (Centre for Transition- CTO.) During the rehabilitation process, the demobilized youth are provided psychosocial and medical support to address the traumas faced while in the armed groups and are given the opportunity to either learn a trade skill to start a small business or attend catch-up classes and go back to formal education. Upon completion of the rehabilitation phase, youth are integrated back into their community. A sustainable reintegration of the rehabilitated youth is anchored on follow-up support in education and trade training of the vulnerable youth within the community. 

RET has, over the years, applied a “Human Rights” approach in its DDR programs and implemented a community-based strategy to involve key stakeholders in the DDR process. Stakeholders include relevant government bodies, local authorities, local leaders, religious leaders, school authorities, parents, and youth associations involved in the project design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. The community also participates in organizing and implementing peace projects.  

RET’s DDR programs are meant to holistically bring a lasting change in communities affected by child-soldier recruitment. The local government has recognized the programs through the Executive Unit of the National Program of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (UEPN-DDR) and the national army. 

To date, RET has rehabilitated more than 1,177 combatants, trained more than 540 stakeholders and 33 youth associations on International and National legislation regarding child and adolescent rights, and implemented over 60 peace projects in collaboration with youth associations and local communities to engage youth and promote peace over violence positively, signed letters of disengagement on the recruitment of children in North Kivu with 32 armed groups, sensitized more than 40,000 community members on peace-building at the community level, providing alternative pathways for vulnerable young people and creating income-generating structures for stability and finally assisted more than 500 parents with cash support to build sustainable livelihoods by setting up small businesses. 

RET is currently implementing the transitional development project Multisectoral support for improved food security and peaceful and inclusive co-existence of conflict-affected populations” in eastern DRCongo (2021-2024) 

Within this project, RET is working to improve peaceful relations between ethnic groups and integrate stigmatized, vulnerable, and traumatized groups, especially youth ex-combatants and indigenous Batwa groups, into the local community and economy, in tandem with increasing food security of smallholder farmers in North Kivu and Ituri provinces while applying sustainable natural resource management, and improving the balanced diet and nutritional practices for smallholder farmers and their families.  

RET has developed a number of creative activities like psychological support that will promote the integration of vulnerable and traumatized groups like ex-combatant youth and Batwa families into the local communities by establishing community peace councils (barzas); training the barzas members on social cohesion and peaceful conflict resolution; organizing quick-impact activities of public interest (peace projects) targeting 1350 members of different ethnic groups and communities; organizing recreational activities and involving at least 2500 members of multiple ethnic groups and communities; sensitizing community members about peaceful co-existence, inclusion, and conflict prevention…etc. And much more.  

RET’s active interventions in eastern DRC, since 2012 to promote social cohesion, community resilience, and transitional development haven’t gone unnoticed, and we are grateful for this award and the recognition. We are confident that RET programs are bringing a lasting positive change in the communities in DRCongo.  

The award sought to praise, honor, and celebrate the efforts, leadership, innovation, and activism of the people who, within the exercise of their public and private functions in multiple fields, are contributing to restoring the image of DRC and reviving the hope to believe in a better and prosperous Congo. Various organizations, including INTERNEWS, UNFPA, IMA, CEPAC AND IFAD, CAFED, and more, were represented at this 1st edition of the prize of excellence. 

As it was emphasized by Josué Muneke, coordinator of the ASBL/TCN: “Let us encourage and recognize the bravery, innovation, and leadership of people and organizations, and push them to work harder for the development of the North Kivu province. This prize is an award for gratitude and tribute to the individuals and organizations who have positively distinguished themselves in their work to render communities more resilient.” 

TCN is a non-profit organization with a vision to contribute to the training, monitoring, and empowerment of young people by adopting the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.

Webinar “Comprehensive Approach within Women’s Socio-Economic Empowerment Programmes are Key for Collective Sustainable Development: Leap Women’s Co-Operative and Leap Natural Social Enterprise Example from Türkiye.” The Regional Forum for Sustainable Development 2022 | The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

Check out the Webinar Recording here!

Türkiye hosts around 7 million refugees (Syrian, Iraqi, and Afghan) who have fled their home countries. Disproportionately affected by crises, women and girls face more adversities, including barriers to access to basic services, such as health services, education, livelihoods, and employment opportunities, coupled with protection risks and higher risks of SGBV and SRH. In South-eastern Türkiye, women from the host community have been facing similar challenges, falling behind the overall socio-economic welfare levels of Turkish women residing in other regions in Türkiye. To support women from this particular region, RET Germany (INGO) has been implementing a holistic, multi-faceted approach to Women’s Socio-Economic Empowerment interventions in partnership with LEAP (LNGO) since 2015. RET’s successful WSEE project in Türkiye has impacted the lives of vulnerable women positively, providing them with durable and sustainable solutions by establishing Leap’s women’s co-operative, full-running cooperation led and managed by the enabled project’s women participants.

RET’s interventions aim to empower women and increase their access to the labor market and sustainable income generation opportunities via entrepreneurial development, vocational skills development, branding, digital & social media marketing, and, more importantly, partnerships with governmental and local authorities and the private sector. RET’s interventions advance SDG 5 primarily and SDG 8 but tackle multiple cross-cutting goals following a do-no-harm approach toward climate and gender, including promoting SDG 13, to include echo-friendly actions in WSEE programming, such as market-based programming, decentralized procurement, and light supply chain (locally procured, locally produced), and working towards achieving zero-waste policy.

Agenda and List of Panellists

08:30 Opening, Moderator

8:35 Mr. Mert Fırat – Actor, Entrepreneur, Founding Member of Needs Map (İhtiyaç Haritası), board member of Yanındayız Association & UNDP Goodwill Ambassador to share his experience and his work with LEAP Türkiye. 
08.40 Women, Gender, and Climate Actions measures – Dima Haydar, Director of External Relations & Communications at RET Germany
08.50 RET Germany’s WSEE Project, Leap Women’s Co-Operative, and Leap Natural – Kardelen Berfin Kobyaoğlu – Livelihoods Specialist at LEAP Türkiye
09.00 Climate Actions in Women’s Socio-Economic Empowerment Programs – Emel D. Andrews – Technical Livelihoods Specialist at RET Germany 
09.15 LEAP Best Practices, Durable Actions, and Lessons Learned within Leap Women’s Co-Operative Kardelen Berfin Kobyaoğlu – Livelihoods Specialist – LEAP Türkiye
09.30 Q & A

Gender Equality today for a Sustainable Tomorrow

International Women’s Day – March 8, 2022

The International Women’s Day, March 8, is an opportunity to reflect on the advances and gaps in gender equity and commemorate how women and girls are leading the solutions to address global problems, including climate change within RET’s programs. The UN 2022 theme focuses on “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”  According to the UN, “the year 2022 is pivotal for achieving gender equality in the context of climate change and environmental and disaster risk reduction, which are some of the greatest global challenges of the twenty-first century. Without gender equality today, a sustainable future and an equal future remains beyond our reach.”

Gender Equality 
Equality and non-discrimination are fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter, adopted by world leaders in 1945. Yet, “millions of women, young women, minority groups, and people of diverse gender identities worldwide continue to experience discrimination in the enjoyment of civil, cultural, economic, political, and social rights. Moreover, many women face compounded forms of discrimination—due to factors such as their age, race, ethnicity, disability, or socioeconomic status, in addition to gender-based discrimination.”  

Though girls and boys face similar challenges in early childhood, gender disparities become more pronounced in adolescence (10-19 years of age), a crucial period when boys’ and girls’ attitudes about gender develop and gender norms consolidate. Due to expected gender roles, adolescent girls may also face a disproportionate burden of domestic work, risks of early marriage and early pregnancy, and sexual and gender-based violence. Women today face social, economic, and political barriers coupled with unequal access to resources and decision-making processes.

According to RET, gender equality means women and men of all ages and regardless of sexual orientation have equal conditions for realizing their full human rights and contributing to and benefiting from economic, social, cultural, and political development and decision-making.  RET considers the impact of gender and social norms throughout all its projects. RET’s interventions work across the triple nexus, supporting equality and inclusion of women and young girls (focusing on refugees, migrants, and returnees) in society and the economy to help them lead their self-reliance journey and build their resilience. RET is also fully committed to supporting the Sustainable Development Goal SDG5: “To Achieve Gender Equality and Empower All Women and Girls,” to ensure women and girls have equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes, particularly during times of crisis and fragile contexts.

Gender and Climate Actions
Climate change is felt through primarily natural hazards and affects many sectors, including agriculture, food security, health, and even migration patterns. Both women and men relying on natural resources for their livelihoods, such as agriculture, are likely affected by climate change. However, the impact is not the same on both, and women’s vulnerability stems from several factors – social, economic, and cultural. Advancing gender equality in the context of climate crises and disaster risk reduction (Preparedness and Mitigation) is one of the most significant global challenges of the 21st century that RET is currently undertaking. 

RET has actively worked to address women and young people’s specific and immediate needs while addressing the broader issues preventing gender equality within each given context. Given that RET works primarily in emergency and fragile contexts, it has gathered first-hand evidence that conflict and climate change affect males and females differently, and those gender disparities are often exacerbated. Both protection and livelihoods risk for girls and young women increase in such contexts; climate change affects the livelihoods of specifical women dependent on natural resources in rural areas. In response, RET actualizes equality through gender-sensitive strategies to respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change and conflicts. 

Within its current projects in Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas, here are some facts about our interventions and commitment to climate adaptation in 2022:

  • RET is promoting short and medium-term agriculture measures to revive rural areas that directly target the needs of the poorest refugees/local farmers, especially female-headed households.
  • RET is increasing adaptive capacity and resilience to reduce people’s vulnerability, especially women, to the impacts of climate change and climate-related risks.
  • RET is building farmers’ adaptive capacity, especially women (refugees and host), to boost the local economy and create employment and income-generating opportunities. 
  • RET is reducing the impact of climate change on agriculture production, affecting the livelihoods of populations depending on agriculture, especially women.
  • RET is reducing Inadequate water and plant pest/disease management representing a significant constraint to stabilize and increase agricultural production linked to intensified seasonal and inter-annual climate variability and change.
  • RET is strengthening the adaptation-related research, including meteorological and hydrological monitoring and forecasting, including early warning systems, etc.
  • RET is taking part in promoting water-saving irrigation methods to withstand climate change;
  • RET is advancing the promotion of modified fishing practices to adapt to stock changes and fished species and introducing more flexibility in the equipment and techniques used, including enabling and training vulnerable women on fish preparation …

Disaster Risk Reduction – The Americas
RET is mainstreaming resilience approaches that address disaster and climate risks within the context of multiple projects, aiming to integrate climate and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) as integral elements in all RET projects as we move forward. 

Through a range of approaches, RET reduces the number of lives and livelihoods lost or adversely affected during a disaster and helps capacitate and empower young people, especially women, to become more resilient to future crises.RET’s programs aim to help vulnerable populations anticipate and prepare for disasters in the education system and at the community and national levels through participatory and community-based approaches. RET intervenes in disaster and emergency-affected environments to mitigate the impact of disasters and ensure the most vulnerable, especially young women and People with Disabilities (PwD), have access to protection services and adapt to educational opportunities and learning environments. Moreover, RET has DRR programs to reinforce the preparedness and mitigation capacities of national and local stakeholders, families, and communities in the event of a disaster, with a strong focus on the active participation of vulnerable groups, especially women, throughout the whole process.

Recently, RET has been integrating an intersectional approach to address the needs of the most vulnerable populations to understand how the different layers of vulnerability interact between at-risk populations, including gender vulnerabilities. RET has been incorporating Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in its Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategy to build climate resilience and self-sufficiency; strengthen community food production; promote plant-based diets and Eco-efficiency initiatives; to help reduce risks while simultaneously support livelihoods.  Nature-based Solutions (NbS) focus on managing or restoring an ecosystem that addresses societal challenges, such as disaster risk, climate change, food security, water security, and human health. It addresses all three components of the risk equation – preventing or mitigating hazards, limiting people’s exposure to hazards, and limiting their vulnerability.

RET’s response is strengthened through active partnership in many inter-sectoral networks and clusters promoting inclusive disaster and climate resilience, including the UN Educational Cluster, the LAC Network for Disability Inclusion in DRR (GIRDD LACRed de Gestion Inclusiva del Riesgo de Desastres y Discapacidad), GNDR (Global Network of Civil Society Organizations for Disaster Reduction), GADRRRES (Global Alliance for Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience in the Education Sector) and the regional PEDRR platform for Latin America and the Caribbean (Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction.)

Pest Monitoring and Integrated Pest Management – Lebanon

RET is implementing a project aimed at “Strengthening the resilience and peaceful coexistence of Lebanese and Syrian refugees through increased income generation in the agricultural and food production sectors” in Lebanon, in partnership with the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute.

A Training of Trainers (ToT) was organized in Tel Al-Amarah station, tackling traps and attractants and their use in pest monitoring and Integrated Pest Management. 

26 people attended the training, including agricultural engineers from the Ministry of Agriculture in Baalbek and multiple municipalities, including Al Qaa, Arsal, Harbta, Labweh, and Hermel.

This ToT is part of a series of training to be provided by LARI experts in the field of integrated pest management, soil management and fertilization, weed management, Pesticides, pruning and grafting, legumes, and cereals production, consumptive water use, traceability in crop production, biological control, and extension services provided through the application LARI LEB.

This project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany and implemented by RET Germany in Consortium with GATE Lebanon and LARI.

Cooperation Agreement with the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) – Lebanon

The Chief Operations Officer and Technical Program Development at RET Germany, Mrs. Elcin DEMIREL, and the President Director General of LARI, Dr. Michel Afram, signed a cooperation agreement to implement the project “Strengthening the resilience and peaceful coexistence of Lebanese and Syrian refugees through increased income generation in the agricultural and food production sectors” funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany through the sponsor organization RET Germany, and implemented in consortium with GATE Lebanon (LNGO) and the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI). The event was held at the Headquarter of LARI in Tal Amara in the presence of the Director of Gate Lebanon, Mr. Ayman Abdullah, the project coordinator at GATE Lebanon, Mr. Hussein Nasrallah, and the project coordinator at LARI, Ms. Zinette Moussa. 

The project’s overall objective is to improve the food security, livelihoods, and peaceful coexistence of local Lebanese and Syrian refugees communities in the Governorate of Baalbek-Hermel by improving agricultural and food production and raising awareness among farmers.

The Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) will implement the following activities:

1. Technical support for fish farmers by conducting microbiological and chemical water testing of the river and fish farms to evaluate pollution levels and propose mitigation measures, if needed,  

2. Training farmers on the use of agricultural technology in pest management through the establishment of 18 demonstration fields,

3. Conducting soil testing and proposing fertilization programs,

4. Training GATE engineers and farmers on integrated pest management, soil management and fertilization, weed management, pesticides, pruning and grafting, legumes and cereals production, water consumptive use, traceability in crop production, biological control and extension services provided by LARI to farmers through the application LARI LEB
.In addition to training the vulnerable households in Al Qaa on basic agricultural practices for subsistence farming (fruits and vegetables);

5. Preparing awareness and technical materials such as brochures to distribute to farmers;

6. Providing Farmers and citizens with an Early Warning System about weather conditions, especially storms and floods, and the risk of spread of agricultural pests through the LARI LEB mobile application.

Collaboration to Meet SDG4 and Support the 2030 Decade of Action

RET, represented by its President & CEO Ms. Zeynep Gülgün Gündüz was part of the High-level Virtual Side Event, UNGA” 75″ 2020 “Government and Foundation Partners Demonstrate Effective Cross-sectoral. Collaboration to Meet SDG4 and Support the 2030 Decade of Action”

This event was co-hosted by Education Above All Foundation, the Permanent Mission of The State of Qatar to the United Nations, Qatar Fund For Development, the UN Office for Partnerships, and UNESCO.

The event discussed ways to enhance collaboration among vital actors, specifically countries, civil society and foundations, policymakers, and institutions engaged in education, humanitarian, and development responses to accelerate country progress on the SDG4 and the related SDG targets.

The SDG4 Education 2030 Framework for Action seeks to promote international collaborative efforts to achieve SDGs through different methods and institutional arrangements, including cross-sectoral coordination and multi-stakeholder partnerships. The overall 2030 Agenda recognizes that the global goals and targets will not be achieved through single sectoral approaches alone. The SDG4-Education 2030 Framework for Action’s key message is that different domains (e.g., data, sport, water, energy, and food) are interconnected. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of collaboration between sectors to ensure students’ well-being and learning continuity.

RET addressed its multi-sectoral response in more than 32 countries worldwide and emphasized its achievements in the Americas related to (SDG 13) strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters by mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction & Management within education-focused interventions to improve all learners’ education on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning; (SDG’s 5 & 9) using an innovative, inclusive approach, paying particular attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations to leave no one behind; and (SDG 6) providing equitable access to safe drinking water and restore water-related systems in school settings, among other interventions.

Ms. Gunduz highlighted the Zero Project Award 2020 for innovative practice, won by RET for “Including Children, Adolescents and Youth with Disabilities in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Practices.”

You can watch the entire recoding  below

Ms. Zeynep Gülgün Gündüz Remarks:
“Thank you very much for the introduction and thank you to “Education Above All Foundation” and the Government of Qatar for inviting us to participate in this important event.

Let me first start with who we are!
At the heart of RET’s mission is to PROTECT and BUILD the SELF-RELIANCE of young people and women. RET works in areas of conflict, crisis, instability, and fragility around the world. We were created 20 years ago by then High Commissioner of UNHCR, Sadako Ogata, to provide education for vulnerable youth, namely refugees in refugee camps. Today, while we still work in camps, most of our work is with urban, peri-urban, and rural populations of concern, including refugees, host communities, and the internally displaced.

RET has more than 20 years of experience in Education in Emergencies. We have worked in 32 countries, including ten of those in Latin America Caribbean region, throughout Central and East Africa, West Africa in the Sahel, in the Middle East with the Syrian crisis in Lebanon and Turkey, and in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with over 2 million program participants, in over 1,600 schools and centers, in nearly 400 projects.

RET’s core competencies in the spectrum of education are built on interventions ranging from the strengthening of FORMAL and NON-FORMAL education, basic literacy and numeracy, tertiary education, human rights, refugee rights, children’s rights, women’s rights, responsible citizenship, and peacebuilding, addressing and designing inclusive programs with youth with disabilities and special needs, mainstreaming gender equality and disaster risk reduction and management (DRR&M).

In the framework of SDG4- INCLUSIVE and EQUITABLE EDUCATION FOR ALL – RET is committed to safeguarding refugees’ right to education and other populations of concern. Typically, our education programs are accredited and in line with the Ministry of Education of the host country or the home country.

RET advocates for enhancing the national education systems’ capacity to include refugees and other displaced adolescents and youth, including those with disabilities, to prevent acts of discrimination and harassment against them and mitigate xenophobic culture.

While RET works in the education sector (SDG4), RET’s interventions are multi-sectoral, and RET is committed to include livelihoods, socio-economic empowerment, food security and nutrition, health and specifically mental health and psychosocial skill support (MHPSS), water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), addressing:
SDGs 2 (zero hunger), 3 (good health and well-being), 5 (gender equality), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 9 (innovative and inclusive solutions), 13 (climate change and reduction of its impact) and 17 (partnerships for the goals)

RET is committed to mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction & Management (DDR&M) within its education interventions to improve all learners’ education on climate change, mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning.

I want to give an example of a highly innovative project we designed in 2015, together with youth in Panama and the various Panamanian ministerial authorities as a first-ever pilot project.

In terms of natural disasters, Panama is faced with the threat of flooding each year and is vulnerable to climate variability due to the El Nino phenomenon, and earthquakes and volcanoes.

The RET project was the first in Panama ever to integrate DRR&M practices into public schools to increase education sector RESILIENCE and to empower young people with disabilities to be agents of positive change in both DRR and first response.

Our RET approach was threefold: 1) awareness-raising and mobilization, 2) capacity-building, 3) institutional strengthening.

Since 2015, we have continued and expanded this project with nearly 8000 young people with disabilities participating in our program, in tandem with first aid and emergency exercises, and the designation of evacuation plans and paths.

RET also built the capacity of education partners, teachers, parents/caregivers, education center management, and staff on DRR&M through training, development of curricula, development of guidebooks and manuals, and even for the first time, the development of sign language on risk management and first response!

I want to add here that in 2020, RET has won the Zero Project Innovation Award for this project.

RET has had 17 projects in the field of Disaster Risk Reduction & Management (DRR&M) in multiple countries in LAC region, with 70,000 participants in programs in Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador, starting in Colombia, working with the Ministry of Education in the 94 departments throughout the country, where RET trained to build capacity and work together with the departmental representatives in designing DRR preparedness for all the schools, in the development of tools and frameworks, benefitting 41,000 in 1,200 schools.

During the last few years, RET has been engaged globally with the Global Alliance for Risk Reduction and Resilience (GADRRRES) and at the regional level with the Regional Education Sector Group for DRR and Education in Emergencies. RET was also previously engaged in CORELAC, the Coalition for Children and Youth Resilience in Latin America and the Caribbean. As Coordinator of CORELAC, RET participated in the UN World Conference on DRR held in Sendai, Japan, in 2015, sharing the voices of Children and Youth for Resilience to DRR and advocating for their inclusion as relevant actors in the Sendai Framework for DRR through 2030.

Once again, thank you, all, for having RET here today.”
Ms. Zeynep Gülgün Gündüz



Program and Panelists

Welcome Remarks

  • Ambassador Sheikha Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of The State of Qatar to the United Nations


  • Mr Jordan Naidoo, Director of the UNESCO Kabul Office and Country Representative to Afghanistan

 Keynote Speakers

  • Ms Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group
  • E. Khalifa Jassim Al-Kuwari, Director General, Qatar Fund for Development
  • Ms Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO

Panel Members

  • The Honorable Janet Kataaha Museveni, Minister of Education & Sports, Uganda
  • HE Dr Hang Chuon Naron, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, Cambodia
  • HE Professor George A. O. Magoha, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Education, Kenya
  • Ms Annemarie Hou, Executive Director, a.i. UN Office for Partnerships & Senior Communications Advisor, Office of the Secretary-General, UN
  • Ms Zeynep Gündüz, President, CEO & Board Member, RET International
  • Ms Mamta Saikia, CEO, Bharti Foundation
  • Ms Nezha Alaoui, President, Mayshad Foundation
  • Ms Magdalena Brier, Managing Director, ProFuturo Foundation
  • Ms Carola Tembe, Program Manager, H&M Foundation

Closing Remarks

  • Mr Fahad Al-Sulaiti, CEO, Education Above All Foundation

Call for Support to Lebanon

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Dear Friends,

As all of you know, the massive explosion on Tuesday in Beirut, was the third largest in the world after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with more than 5000 people injured, thousands more missing, and 137casualties. More than 300,000 people have been internally displaced (IDP’s) due to the loss of their homes.

Lebanon, an already fragile state, had been suffering since its civil war from 1975-1990, from 5 decades of insecurities, social instability, and most recently from economic and financial collapse.

Think about this – Lebanon has a population of 6.8 million plus an additional 1 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees.  Approximately half the population are in dire need of food assistance, as unemployment was already approaching 40% before Tuesday’s blast.

Today, I urgently ask for your donation to RET, ourindependent, neutral, non-profit, based in Switzerland, Washington DC, Berlin, which I have been heading for the last 17 years. 

Our team is already on the ground working in Lebanon providing and ready to provide urgent assistance and lifesaving basic needs such as psychological first aid, food, water, shelter to those in need.

So many of you have already written to me.  I cannot thank you enough for your generous support during these tragic times. Your donations are much needed NOW to help feed and keep alive hundreds of thousands of people.  Thank you, again, and again!!!

Please follow the below link to GoGetFunding & Donate Urgently!

Zeynep Gülgün Gündüz
President & CEO of RET
Check out the video of RET president !

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