Started Working in Türkiye
Direct Beneficiaries & Program Participants
(Women & Girls)
Since 2014, RET in Türkiye has touched the lives of over 300K direct beneficiaries, 70% female, and indirectly benefited around 3 million beneficiaries throughout 36 projects, focused on Protection, Economic Growth & Development (Women Socio-Economic Empowerment), Education & Capacity Building, Peace Stability & Transition (Youth programs & social cohesion), Gender Equality & Social Inclusion, and Basic Infrastructure and Equipment…
Since 2014, RET has conducted operations in eight provinces in Türkiye, including deep rural and urban areas, namely in Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Mardin, Kilis, Corum, Samsun, Ankara, and Istanbul.
The interventions in Türkiye have been centered around three pillars:
1) Enhancing the resilience of vulnerable groups with protection- focused approach (child protection, women protection, prevention of early forced marriages and child labor, prevention & mitigation of gender-based violence, safe spaces for young girls and adolescences, psychosocial support, legal counseling, life skills, language training programs, vocational training, sexual and reproductive health training, counseling and mentorship, and case management and referrals.)
2) Promoting the socio-economic empowerment and self-reliance of women through a holistic approach focusing on decent work and social integration (livelihoods, income generation, mentorship, business development, Entrepreneurship, networking, and value chain…)
3) Empowering youth to become agents for positive change through education & capacity building & youth empowerment programs (performing arts, community engagement, and youth ambassadorship, in addition to mainstreaming social cohesion.)
The capacity of 60 Women’s ‘Centers for Livelihoods’ has been built through infrastructural capacity strengthening, capacity building of their staff, and various life skills and income-generating activity programs.
RET in Türkiye sets up a national network of businesswomen to support local women’s income-generating projects in the provinces and Centers for Livelihoods.
RET is committed to enabling girls and young women affected by disasters, in fragile contexts and protracted crises by advancing the Sustainable Development Goals and the Decade of Action (SDGs 2030), in particular, decent work (SDG8), to live healthy lives and to promote wellbeing for all (SDG 3), and to advance gender equality and women & girls’ empowerment (SDG 5.)
Decent work is an essential element of the triple nexus RET is using and represents RET’s approach in mitigating the socio-economic adversities through (1) Employment & Income Generation Opportunities, (2) Enhancing Skills for Employability, and (3) Institution-building & Social Dialogue that can contribute to peace and resilience and (4) Enterprise/entrepreneurial; in tandem with raising awareness regarding gender-based violence & sexual and reproductive health matters. Türkiye’s socio-economic empowerment program addressed the needs of refugee and vulnerable local women and their families living in semi-urban and peripheral areas. Since 2015, more than six projects were implemented in the provinces of Mardin, Şanlıurfa, and Kilis and Çorum, enabling more than 25,000 women directly. Workshops in (1) Handmade Soap Production; (2) Natural Dolls Making Workshop, (3) Natural Dyeing and Wood Printing Workshops are offered to local and refugee women, supporting them in setting up small businesses to sell their handmade products and generate sustainable income.
In addition to vocational training, advanced technical training for women interested in setting up small local businesses is offered, providing them with knowledge on product design, marketing, and entrepreneurship skills. The projects decreased the vulnerability of refugee women through support mechanisms that would increase their employability and economic productivity and provide them with a more protective social environment. RET Partnered with multiple Development Agencies, Women Entrepreneurs Councils of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Türkiye, the Turkish Employment Agency, the Chambers of Commerce, and Industry, and with the directorates of several organized industrial sites to find relevant marketing solutions to brand the women’s products and advance their income-generating activities.
Young People as Agent of Change
Supporting the Role of Youth in Peacebuilding for Community Stabilization is another focus of RET’s Türkiye responses. It is in line with the government of Türkiye’s national strategy to facilitate social cohesion and community stabilization. It aimed to promote dialogue, respect, and understanding amongst youth and become actors of positive and peaceful change in their communities. These youth programs bridged the gap between youth across divides of ethnicity, religion, or nationality, and reduced the risk of marginalization, radicalization, and violence amongst young people while enabling them to be active and positive actors in their communities.
RET implemented various activities such as a structured life skills curriculum, with topics in line with young people’s needs, interests, and aspirations. Moreover, young people were meaningfully engaged by identifying, planning, and implementing small-to-medium- scale youth-led, social action projects in their respective communities aimed to mitigate intra- and inter-community tensions and conflicts.
Moreover, RET launched an innovative initiative to empower the youth through the cohesive power of Music, Dance, and the Arts. Two diverse intercultural music and dance ensembles were created, the RET Youth Orchestra and Choir and the RET Youth Dance Company. Both ensembles join Syrian and Turkish amateur musicians and dancers from within RET’s youth centers in southern Türkiye and use music and dance as tools to disseminate a culture of peace harmony and promote social cohesion. This accomplishment was further strengthened through a five years’ partnership with the prestigious “Haute école de musique de Genève – Neuchâtel” (Geneva HEM) (2018-2022), and with the inauguration of a RET center for Arts in Kızıltepe in Turkey.
In 2021, RET is implementing the project “Turkish and English Language Learning Program as a tool for Empowerment and Social Cohesion.” The project aims to empowering youth and women refugees by bridging the language divide and advancing social cohesion, and increasing their participation in the public sphere. RET aimed to integrate adolescent, youth, and women refugees and support social cohesion through Turkish and English language learning classes in Mardin, Kilis, Şanlıurfa, Ankara, and Çorum. In collaboration with “Liela” a charitable foundation supported by Liechtenstein’s Government, RET will prepare and adapt the Turkish and English language learning materials as part of a “language mediation project” within the Liechtenstein Language program. RET will also provide Training of Trainers (ToT) of English and Turkish language courses and Turkish Language Classes, as well as English Language Classes for refugees in Mardin, Sanlıurfa, Kilis, Ankara, and Çorum. This project will enhance social cohesion by facilitating the communication between two communities by establishing trust, value sharing, and social integration, thanks to offering language learning programs. In addition to that, refugees will rely on others/translators for their daily tasks because of the language barrier. Through this program, refugees will be able to benefit from social services like health or education or legal services more timely and efficiently.
In 2019 and 2020, RET stepped in to “Facilitate vulnerable individuals’ – host, refugee and asylum seekers – “Access to Services & Rights” in Çorum & Samsun” through a community-based approach conducive to reducing vulnerabilities. This project was initiated within the scope of the “Local Initiative Fund in Türkiye” “LIFT” Project, which is co-financed by the European Union through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and co-implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and RET in Turkey. RET used a community-based and center-based approaches, catering to different age brackets providing various services: Awareness Raising, Legal Counseling, Individual Counseling, Individual Protection Assistance- Early Identification and Safe Referral, Psychosocial Support (PSS), and Capacity Building Activity- Mainstreaming GBV in International Protection Forums.
RET believes that promoting/mainstreaming social cohesion and safeguarding social inclusion between refugee and host community members requires adopting a comprehensive gender-balanced approach that addresses the “Bridges and Barriers to Inclusion & Participation“: (1) the primary drivers of tension, (2) the structural vulnerabilities, (3) the power dynamics on different fronts (social, economic, and cultural) and their manifestations at (i) Microsystems Level (e.g., families, friends); (ii) Organizations Level (e.g., schools, workplaces); (iii) Localities Level (e.g., neighborhoods, towns, hard-to-reach rural areas); and (iv) Macrosystems Level (e.g., cultures, governments, social mediums, belief systems) The aim of the program implemented in 2020, was to strengthen the employment prospects of Syrian refugees and members of the host community in the provinces and municipalities hosting high numbers of refugees; enabling the target groups and their families, especially vulnerable households, to generate income in short to medium term, while at the same time stabilizing the host communities and promoting peaceful coexistence between Syrian refugees and the local population. RET’s Social Cohesion Strategy is aligned with the Council of Europe Action Plan for Social Cohesion and aims primarily at helping vulnerable beneficiaries (a) Regain a sense of normalcy; (b) Feel emotionally and socioeconomically empowered and socially accepted through custom-tailored interventions; (c) Improve their overall wellbeing (being a multidimensional concept); (d) expanding social network(s) and participation in the public sphere, beyond the prevailing societal limitations and restrictions imposed; and finally (e) celebrating and embracing cultural diversity.
RET, in partnership with UNICEF implemented a program aiming to avert a lost generation that could be ushered by Türkiye’s Syrian crisis, focused on Protection and Education. (2015 – 2019)
From 2015 until the end of the fiscal year 2019, RET implemented multiple consecutive projects aimed at “Protecting Syrian Children through Non-Formal Education and Specialized Psychosocial Support and Life Skills”. Taking place in Southeastern Türkiye, in the provinces of Gaziantep, Şanlıurfa, and Mardin, the program focuses on out-of-school Syrian children and youth as well as women and girls from both the refugee and host communities. This program offered a comprehensive approach to service provision covering non-formal education, skills-building programs, psychosocial support, and the provision of specialized services and referrals, with a strong focus on fighting gender-based violence. The non-formal education component established Turkish language courses for Syrian adolescents and youth, as mastering Turkish is a necessary condition to be able to access the Turkish formal education system. RET addressed psychosocial distress by establishing community spaces, offering psychosocial activities for girls and boys in safe spaces, along with specialized gender-based violence services. The Girls and Adolescent Safe & Friendly Centers were originally designed to provide multi-disciplinary and cross-sectorial interventions to education and protection. The centers targetted Syrian and Turkish adolescent girls and boys, providing psychosocial support, life skills programs, social cohesion & peacebuilding programs, personal development programs, and group & individual emotional support.
The project promoted adolescents’ and youth’s engagement and inclusion through social action projects designed, planned, and implemented by young people.
RET positively impacted the lives of more than 208,000 children & students within its intervention in protection and education alone.
Local Women’s Socio-Economic Empowerment and Social Skills Development for Social Cohesion and Youth Empowerment (2023)
The Turkish provinces Şanlıurfa, Kilis, and Mardin, in southeast Turkiye, present a transit route for the Syrian refugees crossing the Syrian borders. Kilis hosts the highest concentration of refugee population compared to the total population. At the same time, Şanlıurfa is ranked 4th, and Mardin is ranked 7th among the top 10 provinces hosting the highest number of refugee concentrations.
Despite the cultural proximity between the refugee and host communities living in Şanlıurfa, Mardin, and Kilis, the demographic change has worsened both communities’ living conditions, increasing the risks for social tension. The women in these regions from the host and refugee communities struggle with barriers caused by traditional gender norms and lack of skills exacerbated by their limited education and livelihood opportunities. The situation is worse for refugee women, heightened by the language barrier, trauma, and losses caused by war and displacement.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
The “Local Women’s Socio-Economic Empowerment and Social Skills Development for Social Cohesion and Youth Empowerment” project aims to support the empowerment of vulnerable refugee and local women aged 16-55 years by building their professional skills, which would allow them to generate income in the affected regions Şanlıurfa, Mardin, and Kilis. RET will deliver technical and vocational education and training (TVET) targeting refugee and host community women in the following fields: Natural Soap Making (in Mardin), Handmade Dolls Making (in Kilis), Block Printing and Natural Dyeing (in Mardin), and Local Food Production (in Şanlıurfa). While the women gain vocational skills, they can also generate income by selling the products online through the “Leap Natural” brand outlets.
The project will also raise awareness against gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual and reproductive health (SRH.)
Empowering Young People
The second objective of this project is to empower vulnerable young people (aged 12-25 years) from the refugee and host communities in Mardin by providing awareness-raising sessions on social cohesion, communication skills workshops, and music courses. Music, artistic engagement, and communication skills development are used as tools to increase social cohesion among the host and refugee adolescents and youth.
This project, implemented between January 2023 and December 2023, is implemented by RET, in partnership with LEAP in Turkiye.
Turkish and English Language Learning Programme as a Tool for Empowerment and Social Cohesion, Phase II (2023-2025)
Refugees in Turkey face many challenges, from shelter and food to providing for their family’s needs. The limited working knowledge of the Turkish language prevents refugees from accessing income-generating opportunities. The limited language proficiency also prevails against refugees learning about their rights and accessing much-needed public services in different fields, including education and health. Language is particularly problematic for female refugees with trouble integrating more into social life. Despite the significant human and financial resources allocated to the Syrian crisis, specifically in capacity building, awareness-raising sessions, livelihood supports, and/or social cohesion programs, little has been dedicated to bridging the language barrier. Bridging the language barrier is necessary to ensure better refugee integration and service accessibility and improve access to the labour market.
The “Turkish and English Language Learning Programme as a Tool for Empowerment and Social Cohesion, Phase II” project aims to enhance social cohesion by facilitating communication between the refugee and host communities, thus promoting social integration. The project will address one of the many reasons for the social exclusion of refugees from the public sphere: the language barrier. The Turkish language courses will help participants learn Turkish, integrate into the community independently, and promote social, educational, and professional opportunities. The English language courses will enable participants to break prejudices by offering a venue for peaceful coexistence amongst the refugee and host community members.
RET builds on experience from the project’s first phase, implemented in localities in Ankara, Samsun, Mardin, and Şanlıurfa between 2021 and 2022. RET conducted an impact assessment with the participants who completed the language courses in all project locations. The evaluation revealed that Turkish language courses improved social interaction, social cohesion, participation in public life, and access to public services. It increased social cohesion amongst the refugee and host communities by eliminating tensions arising due to miscommunication or/and language barriers. Participants reported that after completing the courses, they could engage in simple discussions with their Turkish counterparts, including their neighbors, and conduct daily tasks more efficiently, such as shopping, taking hospital appointments and visiting a physician, receiving couriers, or filling simple forms.
In the project’s second phase, RET will provide Turkish language learning classes to Syrians and non-Syrian refugees in Ankara, Samsun, Mardin, and Şanlıurfa. The classes will help refugee participants increase their communication skills and support them in accessing the labor market, public and private services, and their social life.
RET will also conduct English language courses targeting the refugee and host community members to facilitate integration into the educational and/or professional spheres. Moreover, the English courses allow members of both communities to attend courses jointly and overcome biases. The English courses aim to enhance mutual understanding, ensure peaceful interaction between refugees and the host community members, and support the participants in improving their English language skills for better economic opportunities.
This project, implemented between January 2023 and December 2025, is implemented by RET, in partnership with LEAP in Turkiye.
Multi-sectoral Approach for Fostering Resilience among Non-Syrian Refugee and Vulnerable Host Communities (2022-2023)
Türkiye has been host to the world’s largest refugee population since 2014. Official numbers suggest that there are 3.6 million Syrians under temporary protection, over 330,000 refugees from other nationalities, and asylum seekers under international protection. According to the information provided by PDMM, more than 100.000 registered refugees are in Kayseri. Among those, around 60% are Syrian, 20% are Iranian, 10% are Afghan, and 10% are Iraqi.
Unregistered Afghan and Iraqi refugees are disproportionally disadvantaged when accessing rights, services, and opportunities due to registration problems and limited services designed only for refugees under temporary protection.
Women are disproportionally affected. According to a recent study on “Women Entrepreneurship in Turkey”, the main obstacles facing women entrepreneurs in Turkey are socio-cultural aspects such as stereotypical gender roles as primary caregivers of children, limited participation in the labor force, lack of financial access, lack of social networks, lack of business and management skills, lack of female role models and lack of awareness about acquiring knowledge. These obstacles increase for refugee women since there are more gaps in education, livelihood, and opportunities due to their refugee status.
RET has developed the project “Multi-sectoral Approach for Fostering Resilience among Non-Syrian Refugee and Vulnerable Host Communities,” aimed at increasing the resilience of non-Syrian refugees and host communities in Kayseri. The project proposes (1) increasing access to the labor market of women from refugee and vulnerable host communities, (2) fostering sustainable and lasting social cohesion, while preventing sexual and gender-based violence and promoting sexual and reproductive health. The project will target non-Syrian and host communities during the one-year project life cycle.
RET will support women from non-Syrian refugee and vulnerable host communities by providing them with Technical and Vocational training focused on artisanal and natural local products complemented with soft skills training. Furthermore, RET will deliver capacity-building activities to members of cooperatives, women’s enterprises, and Afghan and Iraqi refugees on multiple topics, including entrepreneurship, marketing strategies, and business plan development, while promoting social cohesion and an inclusive work environment.
RET will work towards advancing social cohesion by organizing structured awareness-raising sessions while involving members of public institutions and civil society actors working with refugees. RET will provide a quick language learning program to help non-Syrian girls and women learn the Turkish language for faster integration.
RET will advance the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence and promote sexual and reproductive health in Kayseri through awareness-raising sessions on sexual and gender-based violence and information dissemination sessions on sexual and reproductive health.
This project, implemented between April 2022 and March 2023, is funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom and implemented in partnership with the Kayseri Metropolitan Municipality and LEAP (LNGO) in Türkiye.
Turkish and English Language Learning Program as a Tool for Empowerment and Social Cohesion
Refugees in Turkey face many challenges, from shelter to food to providing their families needs. The limited working knowledge of the Turkish language impedes SuTPs from accessing income generation opportunities to reduce their multidimensional vulnerabilities. Hence, 3RP 2019-2020 emphasized language training, with the plan recommending “complimenting vocational training and entrepreneurial support with training on other critical skills such as Turkish language courses.” Limited language proficiency also prevails against SuTPs knowing their rights and accessing much-needed public services in different fields, including education and health. Language is particularly problematic for female refugees who have trouble integrating more into social life. Despite the significant human and financial resources allocated to the Syrian crisis, specifically in capacity building, awareness-raising sessions, livelihood supports, and/or social cohesion programs, little has been dedicated to bridging the language barrier. Bridging the language barrier is necessary to ensure better refugee integration and service accessibility and improve access to the labor market.
The project empowered youth, women, and refugees by bridging the language divide, advancing social cohesion, and increasing participation in the public sphere. RET aimed to integrate adolescent, youth, and women refugees and support social cohesion through Turkish and English language learning classes in Mardin, Kilis, Şanlıurfa, Ankara, and Çorum. In collaboration with “Liela” a charitable foundation supported by Liechtenstein’s Government, RET will prepare and adapt the Turkish and English language learning materials as part of a “language mediation project” within the Liechtenstein Language program. RET will also provide Training of Trainers (ToT) of English and Turkish language courses and Turkish Language Classes, as well as English Language Classes for refugees in Mardin, Sanlıurfa, Kilis, Ankara, and Çorum.
This project will enhance social cohesion by facilitating the communication between two communities by establishing trust, value sharing, and social integration, thanks to the language learning programs. In addition to that, refugees will rely on others/translators for their daily tasks because of the language barrier. Through this program, refugees can benefit from social services like health, education, or legal services more quickly and efficiently.
This project, implemented between May 2021 and December 2022, was funded by the Government of Liechtenstein and implemented by RET in partnership with LEAP (LNGO) in Turkiye.
Local Women’s Socio-Economic Empowerment and Performing Arts Centre as a tool for Social Cohesion and Youth Empowerment in Turkiye
The project’s goal was to build the employability profile and improve the income generation prospect of targeted vulnerable refugee and host community women through self-reliance training, in tandem with raising their awareness regarding SGBV & SRH issues in Mardin, Kilis, and Şanlıurfa. This project empowered vulnerable refugees (Syrian and Iraqi) and host (Turkish) women aged 16-45 years by building the professional skills that would allow them to generate income in Mardin and provided more than 1’500 women with prevention of risks associated with Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Sexual and Reproductive Health through awareness-raising sessions. RET provided business opportunities for refugee and host community women through technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in (Soap making in Mardin, handmade dolls workshop in Kilis, and local food production courses in Şanlıurfa.) Moreover, RET established partnerships to create sustainable marketing networks for women in Mardin, Kilis, and Şanlıurfa.
The project’s second goal was to promote youth agency through empowerment and social cohesion by celebrating diversity and promoting integration through Music and Dance (Social Healing & Integration through Art) in Mardin. The project enhanced the capacity of two diverse ensembles, the RET Orchestra and Choir (RYOC) and RET Youth Dance Company (RYDC), and to the sustainability of the newly established RET Performing Arts Centre (2018) by the implementation of the following activities:
- Minor renovations to address the structural deficiencies of the center and improve the center infrastructure
- Capacity building of the dance and music trainers to improve the overall quality of the programs with the technical support of the Haute École de Musique de Genève (HEM)
- Delivery of the Regular Arts Program (music and dance modules) to Syrian and Turkish adolescents and youth along with outreach activities to identify more youth interested in the program and certification after successful completion of the modules
- Innovative workshops contribute to the materials and equipment of the Arts Program while raising awareness of environmental issues (e.g., fabrication of dance costumes through recycling)
- Family awareness-raising meetings aimed at positive parenting
- Referrals to as well as coaching and guidance on formal education opportunities (cross-institutional) for the enrolled beneficiaries
- The enrolled beneficiaries will give small musical and dance performances to apply and present the skills learned at the end of each workshop.
The RET Performing Arts Center’s ultimate goal is to promote social cohesion between the host and refugee children and youth by sharing music & dance experiences. In this regard, the project will create a space for socialization, safeguarding inter-cultural dialogue, and strengthen participants’ sense of achievement and accomplishment by awarding them the opportunity to implement and apply the M&D knowledge they have learned. Moreover, the youth’s employability prospect was increased through technical music training to art education. Also, RET provided performing arts as a tool to address psycho-social distress, increasing youth’s self-esteem and confidence while diminishing youth’s vulnerabilities affected by the Syrian crisis.
The vocational training workshops/sessions equipped the Syrian and local vulnerable women in Mardin with new skills and knowledge impacting their family’s self-reliance. It enhanced the inter-community dialogue and understanding among them, thus facilitating the integration of Syrian refugees into Turkish society. Ultimately, this will lead to more stable and peaceful communities and gender equality-based socio-economic development in the long term. The project bridged the gap in social cohesion and youth empowerment by employing humanitarian and innovative artistic approaches by combining theory and practice. This accomplishment was further strengthened through a five years’ partnership with the prestigious “Haute école de musique de Genève – Neuchâtel” (Geneva HEM) (2018-2022), and with the inauguration of a RET center for Arts in Kızıltepe in Turkey.
The project is implemented between August 2021 & August 2022, in Türkiye
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