Write: Nihat Erdoğan
The Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work (FSWW), aiming to improve the economic situation of women and increase their participation in society through their labor and individuality, is a nongovernmental organization that unearths labor and value.
The Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work (FSWW), aiming to improve the economic situation of women and increase their participation in society through their labor and individuality, is a nongovernmental organization that unearths labor and value. Among the reasons for FSWW’s existence are using the knowledge, experience, and skills of women with inadequate income to guide them toward certain areas of expertise, and supporting their battle against poverty with their new ideas. FSSW believes that women have the power to support their own lives and their environments, accepting their right to define their issues and take responsibility in solving them. One truly can see that in today’s society, social issues can be solved at a local level with the cooperation of all sectors. It is also known that the continually increasing participation of women in social, economic, and political decision-making processes will facilitate significant improvements at the local level.
One of the important areas of operations for the Foundation for the Support of Women’s Work is Mardin. The first efforts to develop neighborhood-based services directed toward women and children in Mardin were begun by FSSW in 2002. The outcome of the study the foundation conducted among women in order to determine needs showed women’s foremost problems to be illiteracy, lack of self-confidence, isolation, societal pressure, children’s education and health, the number of children, and poverty. Based on this information, FSSW started implementing projects through which women could—by sharing their experiences in common spaces belonging to them—escape isolation, gain the skills needed to start economic enterprises, and develop self-confidence and decision-making abilities by participating in the administration and organization of such required services as child education and care.
The Importance of NGO Solidarity
Working together with women from Mardin, FSSW opened two Women and Children’s Centers in the two poorest neighborhoods of Mardin—the results of migration—with the support of the Governorship of Mardin, the Municipality of Mardin, and other NGOs, institutions, and individuals. The Governorship of Mardin and FSSW continue to support the centers created by women organizing in these centers, which began operations in 2005, run by the İpekyolu Women’s Cooperative. The foundation values children too, of course. In this regard, there are half-day, play-focused early childhood education activities being run for children ages three to six, a service that approximately six hundred children make use of each year. The children who participate show great improvement especially in language development and self-confidence, proving just how right the direction and focus of these efforts are.
Strength through Education
Literacy classes are foremost among FSSW Mardin’s women’s education efforts. Activities like teaching computers, leadership, and fundamental business administration are also run.
Female children who were not able to go to school are noted by women working in the centers and guided via campaigns.
As everyone knows, Mardin is a city of tourism today. For this reason, FSSW, believing that women too would contribute to city tourism, conducted various efforts. Infrastructure for manufacturing and trade that would allow women to assume significant roles in this area were created. The Women’s Labor Support Center established in 2005 for local production via which women could develop their entrepreneurial capacities was the most serious enterprise in this regard so far. One of the manufacturing workshops in this center is the Soap Workshop. The women in the workshop use traditional hot-system techniques to create more than twenty kinds of natural soap, from turpentine soap to almond soap, from seaweed soap to coffee, and from grapeseed to lavender. The soap created by the women is sold in the FSSW Istanbul Nahıl Store, Mardin Nahıl Store, pharmaceutical companies, and in various other places. In summary, for the past ten years, women from Mardin have been exhibiting effort to stand as their own as the result of these efforts, be involved directly with their children’s education, and improve their lives. That such efforts are becoming visible publicly is giving greater power and hope to FSSW volunteers.
Women in Mardin
As in almost every city in Turkey, the place of women in Mardin’s daily life and their participation in it is increasing continually. The increasing number of women employed in education and job accession help satisfy the city’s need for a qualified workforce. The items produced under the roof of the Kamer Foundation are sold both in the city and Turkey-wide. The Kamer Foundation has also brought to life play and educational centers that develop relationships between mothers and children positively. The “bıtım” soap produced by women in Mardin is manufactured and sold through the “Bridge from Women to Women” project created jointly by international NGO Johnsondiversey and Kagider. Mardin women showed great interest toward the Lost Arts Project brought to life by the Mardin Foundation to Improve Women’s Education and Employment within the scope of the Reducing Social Risk Project as well as toward coppersmithing. The twenty women participating in the course succeeded in learning the craft of coppersmithing and opening an exhibit. Through this and similar social responsibility projects, the women of Mardin contribute to their family budgets and the city’s economy with the income they earn.
SIX HUNDRED CHILDREN ANUALLY
Within the scope of FSSW Mardin, there are half-day, play-focused early childhood education activities being run for children ages three to six, which approximately six hundred children make use of each year.
Female children who were not able to go to school are noted by women working in FSSW centers and guided via campaigns.