Rural Women Empowerment One of Priorities of Syrian Government Development Programs

The Syrian government is keen on adopting strategic national plans and procedures to strengthen and boost Syrian women's participation in the country's development process.

Rural women empowerment has been one of the top priorities of the development program of the Syrian government.  This was crystallized in the government's commitment to consolidating rural woman's role as key partner in all aspects of life.

 Shedding light on the situation of rural women in Lattakia province, the Syriatimes e- newspaper interviewed eng. Rabab Wardeh, Head of the Rural Women's Development Department at the Directorate of Agriculture there.

 "Undoubtedly, women are an integral part of today's society and it is crucial to recognize their vital role in sustainable development," Eng. Wardeh said, stressing women's keenness on enhancing the society through their social development activities.

Taking about the department's goals, Eng. Wardeh pointed out that the department's plans aim at empowering rural women socially, economically and financially, creating job opportunities through implementing local projects to improve rural women's living condition and achieve the hoped-for sustainable rural development.

She asserted that the department spares no effort to find marketing opportunities for rural women products at cities' centers with the purpose of meeting people's needs and find income sources for these women.

She pointed out that the department is keen on constant communication with rural women through carrying out training programs and courses, guidance symposiums to get them acquainted with various skills, including livestock breeding, recycling old materials, environment protection, making use of nature plants, food industries and traditional handicrafts of which Syria is famous.

Systematic terrorist attacks on agricultural sector

Eng, Wardeh made it clear that the agricultural sector in Syria has been targeted by systematic terrorist attacks that caused massive losses. Different crops and livestock production were damaged, wide agriculture areas were burnt and a big number of trees were cut down, she said.

According to Wardeh, during the hard circumstances, through which Syria has been passing, the ministry of agriculture has adopted a special program to support rural families affected by the ongoing crisis through offering production grants for family breadwinners as well as war wounded personnel and through adopting an urgent aid program to assist farmers affected by the crisis

Wardeh elaborated by saying that 28 kidnapped ladies, who were liberated from the terrorism of takfiri armed gangs in Lattakia's northern countryside, were offered financial aid to carry out their own agricultural and service projects.

Family Agriculture Project

"Under the title of "let's plant every inch of Syria" the ministry of agriculture in 2016 launched the Family Agriculture Project in all Syrian provinces in cooperation with the Syrian chambers of agriculture, UNDP, FAO, WFP, UNHCR, the Red Crescent Society," eng. Wardeh said.

"The project, in general, aims at revitalizing the country's agricultural policy and achieving self-sufficiency and at increasing rural families' income and providing job opportunities in particular," Wardeh said, clarifying that 4607 rural families have benefited from the Family Agriculture Project and that 1310 agricultural and service loans were offered to empower rural women.

She added that the Family Agriculture Project has also provided many rural families in Lattakia with summer vegetable seeds and saplings, agricultural equipments and requirements, greenhouses, and food baskets. In addition, it supported bee breeding enterprises and green gas production.

Wardeh noted  that the number of agricultural and service grants given to rural women in Lattakia countryside reached 4451.

''It is worthy to mention that with the participation of 60 rural women, a permanent marketing center was opened in 2017 with the aim of supporting the rural women's products'' Eng. Wardeh said.

She clarified that the non-profit center displays a wide-range of  hand-made products including  food industries, traditional handcrafts, cosmetics made of natural plants, textiles and clothes, stressing that the center's activities' revenues go to the participating rural women.

Eng. Wardeh asserted that  the Rural Women Development Department made it possible for rural women to introduce their products through enabling them to take part in different activities including Damascus International fair, the Environment Exhibition, the 29th International Flower Fair held in Lattakia, Rural Women Development Projects Festival held in Damascus, the "refouna Barakeh" exhibition held by the ministry of tourism and the Olive and Citrus Festival.

The Syriatimes e-newspaper also met several women who benefitted from the project.

Creating hope from land

Mrs. A'eda Ahmed from Lattakia countryside said "I am the only breadwinner of my family and I have got no job, the Rural Woman Development Department has given me hope to start again and do something useful for my family and my country and thanks to this initiative women are now able to find jobs at their own houses''.

She clarified that she had got a bee breeding grant from the department, including bees, a box of necessary equipment and a guiding book about breeding bees to produce honey.

"The department supports rural women effectively and enhances their presence in society. It creates job opportunities for women to improve their own income and participate in supporting the national economy," Mrs. Ahmed asserted.

"Despite the hard circumstances we have been facing we managed to create hope from land," she concluded, stressing that "life will go on in our lovely country."

Mrs. Asmahan Jaafer, on her part, said that the Rural Women Development Department is of great importance for rural women as it empowers them financially and psychologically  to carry on their own projects as to overcome the difficult circumstances.

Mrs. Asmahan, who is interested in old handicrafts industries and recycling old materials, highly appreciated rural women's participation in the Permanent Marketing Center which helps them support national economy and improve their own income. She also praised women's participation in several exhibitions in order market their products, develop their talents and make better life.

Interviewed by Rawaa Ghanam