The Kitchen Story Project: Empowered Women in Mardin, Türkiye
In the heart of the TRC3 Region (Mardin, Sirnak, Batman, Siirt), in the ancient city of Mardin, a transformative work known as “The Kitchen Story Project” has been emerged as a beacon of progress, offering a glimmer of opportunity for the local and Syrian women and young people who have long faced limited prospects for prosperity.
The TRC3 Region has struggled to develop. Job opportunities are scarce, and access to vocational training and lifelong learning programs is a luxury few can afford. However, this region possesses a hidden treasure: a vast potential for agricultural and food production that has remained largely untapped. Recognizing this potential, “The Kitchen Story Project” has set out to not only bolster the agricultural sector but also meet the growing demands of consumers.
At the heart of the project lies a commitment to empowering Turkish and Syrian women who have historically faced significant barriers in accessing meaningful employment opportunities. Twenty women from each community (40 total) embarked on a journey of transformation which included rigorous vocational and technical training in a state-of-the-art food production atelier and professional kitchen established in Mardin.
What sets this project apart is its emphasis on women as the driving force of change. In a pioneering move, the first production atelier in the TRC3 Region was exclusively designed for and operated by women. This not only opens doors to economic empowerment but also contributes to advancing gender equality in the region while reducing women’s unemployment rates.
“The Kitchen Story Project” has achieved several notable milestones, including:
- Local Food Production Ateliers: Two local food production ateliers, located in Artuklu and Savur, are now operational.
- Women in the Workforce: Twenty disadvantaged Syrian and twenty Turkish women now find employment in the field of vegetable and fruit drying, thanks to the professional training accredited by the Ministry of National Education of Türkiye.
- Beyond Production Skills: In addition to technical skills, the women have been equipped with knowledge in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, social media, and communication skills, product development, and stock management.
- “Leap Natural” Brand: Under the brand “Leap Natural,” these empowered women produce natural and hygienic food products that have found their way into both national and international markets.
- Cost-Effective Products: Consumers now have greater access to cost-effective, naturally produced, and hygienically packaged food products.
- Historical Building Revitalized: An empty historical building, once dormant, has been revitalized into a production center, breathing new life into the community.
- Supporting Farmers: Twenty local farmers who supply raw materials benefit from affordable certified organic fertilizers, thus encouraging the production of natural and organic products at large.
“The Kitchen Story Project” which was developed by the Leap Women’s Initiative, Production, and Business-Cooperative, and implemented through contributions from RET International, LEAP Türkiye, and Mardin Savur Municipality, with the participation of Mardin Metropolitan Municipality, Yeşilli Municipality, Yeşil Hayat Organic Fertilizer A.Ş. It serves as an example of the transformative power of collective action and inclusivity. Demonstrating how investing in the potential of disadvantaged communities, particularly women, can catalyze socio-economic development and foster harmonious relations between the refugees and their host communities.
As LEAP Türkiye, we thank the Republic of Türkiye Ministry of Industry and Technology and the Dicle Development Agency for their support in making this project a concrete reality and positively impacting the lives of women in Mardin. We want to convey our appreciation for their unwavering support.