Center for Supporting and Empowering Syrian Women in Lattakia

"Undoubtedly, women are an integral part of society and it is crucial to recognize their vital  role in sustainable development.  Empowering women would empower the entire society and can have many positive results on social, economic and other aspects of life” Dr. Omar Ballan, the Assistant Representative of the United Nations Population Fund Agency( UNPFA) in Syria said in a statement to the Syriatimes e-newspaper during a UNPFA delegation' visit to the Center for Supporting and Empowering Syrian Women (Women Safe Spaces) in Lattakia province.

 Dr. Ballan stressed that the UNPFA is keen on adopting national plans and procedures to empower and boost the Syrian woman’s participation in the country’s rebuilding and development process in post crisis-era.

He clarified that the UNFPA in cooperation with bodies concerned in Syria spares no effort to support capacity building of women to enable them to take the right choices in their education and reproductive health as well as to disseminate awareness about family planning and  improve the Syrian family’s socio-economic conditions.

Dr. Ballan noted UNFPA's willing to expand partnership with Syrian government institutions to cover different fields.

 "The reason why we are here is to show the UNFPA ‘s support for and solidarity with our strong partners, including the Syrian government, in providing livelihood saving as well as reproductive health and gender-based violence (GBV) services during this stage of the crisis in Syria and the early recovery."

Dr. Ballan indicated that the Syrian crisis has had many negative consequences on the Syrian people and this led women to face more responsibilities including house work, caring for their families as well as searching for livelihood means after many of the women have become the only breadwinners.

He stressed the fact that” Lattakia has suffered from the crisis and it received a number of displaced families from different provinces, the matter which required from us to provide necessary services to the people in need”, adding “we are visiting the center today to listen to and understand women’s needs and to support them effectively and enhance their presence in society”.

He hailed UNFPA's cooperation with concerned Syrian establishments and commissions, saying: "we are looking forward to contribute in the years to come to taking part in reconstruction, rehabilitation and social cohesion process”.

On her part, Mrs, Batool Basmage, Head of the Center for Supporting and Empowering the Syrian women, which is affiliated to the Syrian Family Planning Association( SFPA) in Lattakia,  told the Syriatimes that “ women empowerment has been one of the top priorities of the Syrian government's strategic national plans and procedures. This was crystallized in the government’s commitment to consolidate the Syrian woman’s role as a key partner in all aspects of life”.

She pointed out that the center was established two years ago and is being supported financially by the UNFPA.

Mrs. Basmage went on to say “I was the coordinator of Idleb province branch of the SFP, but I left Idleb to Lattakia after the terrorist armed groups controlled the city and committed horrible crimes there . My own experience made me stronger and more determined to contribute to empowering other women to help them keep steadfast and overcome the bad circumstances."

She made it clear that the trainees, aged 19-70, who have joined the center, are sending messages  to the world that Syrian women are able to shoulder their responsibility towards their country and their families. She affirmed that the center aims at empowering Syrian women socially, economically and psychologically, at creating job opportunities to improve women's living conditions and at achieving the hoped-for sustainable development.

Mrs. Basmage also said that among other activities, the center holds free training courses on sewing, first-aid, hairdressing, illiteracy eradication, English language and wool works.

Dalin Haider, a member at the Fashion Designers Society and a trainer at the center said "joining the center helped me know how strong and patient Syrian women are. They are tender hearted women, who suffered a lot particularly under the crisis, but, at the same time, they are strong mothers, sisters and wives ,who are interested in learning some crafts to start again and enhance their presence in society."

Haider stressed the importance of reviving vocational education and work, indicating that economic recovery needs both education and learning a crafts.

Some trainees affirmed that the center provides them with an important opportunity to be open-minded,  learn useful crafts to have their own projects, consolidate their self-confidence, improve their income, develop their talents and effectively take part in the country's development process.

Interviewed by Rawaa Ghanam