Women in Northern Homs have faced many challenges in the years since the Syrian conflict started. Many families have lost their main breadwinner to the war or to detainment. This leaves the women of the household in charge of income-generation, and this all on top of their other tasks. But, in the enclave of Northern Homs, job opportunities are limited. The Human Rights Office in Homs has an idea of how to give these women an income: in Ar-Rastan, the centre and its partner, the Homs Women's Association, want to establish a sewing factory. This will give women of Ar-Rastan and its surroundings new livelihood opportunities and the necessary means to support their families.
The case of Halima al-Fares, a resident of Homs, shows how much this sewing factory is needed. "My husband died six years ago because of shelling from a tank and left me behind with our four young children. I do not have any resources to feed my children and myself," says Halima. But she has the skills to sew and is now looking for a job, so that one day, she will be able to support her family independently. With your support, Halima can turn her sewing skills into income for her family.
After nearly eight years of violent conflict in Syria, many families are left without a father or husband. Often the breadwinner of the family before the conflict started, this leaves many families struggling to make ends meet in a difficult environment. It is the women of Syria which have been stepping up and shouldering the new responsibilities of bringing home money to support the family. And while the conflict has given us endless portraits of strong and steadfast women facing these challenges bravely, many more are left hopeless and in dire need of income-generating opportunities.
Shaalan Mustafa Al-Daly, a lawyer from Homs, is one of the people wanting to offer such opportunities to women in Homs. He is the head of the Human Rights Centre in Homs, and together with the Homs Women’s Association, they want to establish a sewing factory in Ar-Rastan. "The region of Ar-Rastan in the northern countryside of Homs has one of the largest percentage of casualties," says Shaalan. "This painful reality encouraged me to establish a center specifically concerned with women's issues, empowering them and encouraging them to have their own income-generating work.”
The goal is to create an empowerment project for women, for them to be able to rely on themselves, in the absence of someone else contributing to the family income. It is important to have solid training programs that train women on a specific skill that they need for a profession that can provide a livelihood for them and their families. This is especially important for women heading families who have lost their main breadwinner. In short: for those women who are now solely responsible for the family. It is for these women, that Shaalan and his collaborators want to establish a sewing factory in the city of Ar-Rastan.
After establishing the factory, registration will open for women who have productive capacity and some previous experience. Out of all applicants, the most in-need women will be selected. Sewing experts from the region will then conduct a quick training course for those enthusiastic women to enhance their skill set, and to prepare them for the production. It is planned to sew nice clothes for women and children, which can then be sold on the local market. This project can help both the women being employed in the factory and earning wages for their families, as well as for the local community, which will be able to buy locally-produced, fair-priced clothes.
There are many other examples of women like Halima in the region of Ar-Rastan, who are able and in need of such a job opportunity. For instance, Mariam Mansour is married and has one child. Her husband was arrested three years ago. Since then, Mariam has been relying on her sewing skills and the support of her relatives to get by. She lives in the house of one of her relatives, after her house was shelled and destroyed. On top of this, Mariam is responsible to pay health care for her cancer-stricken mother. Mariam desperately needs a better job opportunity to be able to secure her living and her mother's treatment. If this sewing factory project receives funding, Mariam and other inspiring Syrian women can turn their skills in sewing into livelihoods and offer their families a life in dignity.
To start the project, Shaalan and his colleagues need US$ 11,000 to purchase the project supplies and rent a suitable place to work, as well as to cover wages for the first three months.
Concretely, they will purchase:
- 5 sewing machines
- Ironing table
- Cloth for the clothes
- Racks with couches
- 12 ties
- 1 desk and 1 office chair
- 4 children’s design models
- 4 women’s design models
- 1 folded crystal display
- Rent for the premises
- Wages for employees: a project manager, a worker and a logistics officer
- Operational costs (electricity, water)