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Hosting the largest number of refugees in the world, Turkey provides shelter to approximately 4 million refugees, 3.6 million of whom are Syrians under temporary protection. 20% of the refugees are young people and 46% of them are women. Refugee women and young people are among the most vulnerable groups in Turkey and continue to face various difficulties in many areas including access to basic health services, employment, empowerment, gender-based violence and and social cohesion.

ANKARA, TURKEY - Funded by British Embassy and implemented by UNFPA Turkey in cooperation with the Ankara Metropolitan Municipality, “Improving Employability and Social Inclusion of Vulnerable Refugee Women and Youth” project aims to support and empower women and young people from both refugee and host communities.

One of the most important components of the project is the Women and Youth Support Center operating in Ankara. In this center, in addition to the health and protection services, empowerment related awareness-raising activities and psycho-social support provided to vulnerable women and young people, career counseling for employment, Turkish language and vocational training, artistic and cultural activities, workshops and city tours are organized to strengthen social cohesion. Besides, in the center, awareness-raising activities on gender-based violence are provided and, when it is necessary, prevention and response support are given by the experts. 

Azize who migrated to Turkey 8 years ago from Syria due to the war is one of the refugee women who came to the center. “I have been coming to the center for 7-8 months now. My son is also coming with me. Both my son and I receive psychological support from the center. Because of the war, my son did not feel comfortable at all, he was not social at school. Thanks to the support we received here, he is much more comfortable now” she summarizes the support he receives from the center. Stating that she also attends the courses at the center, Azize says that not only her son but also herself is much more social now: “I made many friends and met new people in the courses. Normally, I would be afraid to come to a place like this, but I feel like home here.”

Entibah who has come to the center for 4 months, thinks like Azize too: “I have benefited greatly from the courses I have taken here. It's nice to learn new things and meet new people.” Entibah who receives psychosocial support services from the center like Azize mentions that both she and her daughter benefited from this support a lot: “It has been very beneficial especially for my daughter as she was afraid of people. She feels much better now.”

Entibah and her daughter make painting in the workshop organized by the Women and Youth Support Center ©️ UNFPA Turkey

Within the scope of the project, regular field visits are organized by teams of experts to reach the most vulnerable women and young people living in remote and rural areas of Ankara, to be able to deliver the most essential services to them and encourage them to come to the center if necessary.

Rayhan is just one of the women the center has reached. Rayhan who fled the war in Syria and took refuge in Turkey is a mother who had to take the responsibility of her 3 children alone after losing her husband in the war. “My husband passed away. I live with my 3 children. The center reached me. They said that I could come to the center and get support on many issues. There is everything here. They take very good care of us. I no longer feel alone.”

Psychologist of the center, Kardelen Sayan, says that especially women come to the center: “trauma, stress and anxiety disorders are very common. Most of them have lost their spouses or do not even know the whereabouts of their spouses and take care of their children themselves. This situation is challenging for both them and their children. Here, we provide them with the necessary support. We also make referrals to other services when it is necessary.”

Ismihan Akdoğan, who works as a nurse at the center, talks about the health literacy activities provided at the center: “we provide support and information on both access to basic health and sexual and reproductive health services here. We especially reach out to women who were married at an early age and support them with family planning through our information-sharing and awareness-raising activities.”

“Improving Employability and Social Inclusion of Vulnerable Refugee Women and Youth” project is implemented with the fund provided by British Embassy, conjointly by UNFPA Turkey and Ankara Metropolitan Municipality. The project aims to support and empower many women and young people like Azize, Entibah and Rayhan through center and field activities.

Women are provided various services in the center including awareness-raising activities on gender-based violence and family planning ©️ UNFPA Turkey