Finding economic independence in leather tanning

March 21, 2024

Fadia tanning some leather

© UNDP Syria – Zuhir Al-Fourati

Fadia is a 33-year-old woman from Deir ez-Zor. A widow and a mother of three children, Fadia was left alone to support the family after her husband passed away. She had no job or profession to put food on the table or provide for her children’s basic needs. 

“My life was difficult. I lost my husband and almost lost my eldest son to a land mine that detonated on his way back from school, resulting in the amputation of his fingers and severe injury of his leg. Now he is refusing to go to school,” said Fadia. 

Living in her parents’ house, Fadia used to go out every day looking for a job, but with no luck, until she heard about an economic empowerment project at the Rural Development Centre in Deir ez-Zor. Driven by her need to learn a profession and earn a living, Fadia applied at the centre and was accepted. She received training in leather tanning, marketing, basic accounting, and calculating profit and loss. She was then provided with a grant to start her own business in the leather industry. “I was feeling helpless before my children. The training and support I received gave me hope again. I now repair leather bags and make leather and wool coats,” Fadia said. 

© UNDP Syria – Zuhir Al-Fourati

Today, Fadia can provide for her children. She aspires to expand her business, buy extra machines, and employ some additional women to help her out. She is one of 510 people (120 received specialized vocational training) who benefited from the Joint Programme (UNDP - UNFPA – FAO) interventions in Deir ez-Zor, funded by the Government of Italy and implemented by UNDP. The Joint Programme provides a holistic approach to empowering crisis-affected households in Al Mayadin, Deir ez-Zor, with a particular focus on persons with disabilities (PwDs), women and youth. Efforts by UNFPA, FAO, and UNDP complement each other, providing a comprehensive package at the household and community level. Joint targeting of beneficiaries is improving socio-economic conditions, enhancing access to health and social protection services, food security, and ultimately strengthening resilience and community cohesion.

“I was living in darkness. The project was lighting my way out of poverty,” Fadia added.