The resilient women of Syria

The resilient women of Syria
After receiving her training, Aisha gets to work at fixing a faucet in the shelter. Photo: UNDP Syrian Arab Republic

Aisha fled with her husband and their five children from the devastating conditions in Aleppo and took refuge at a shelter in Tartous governorate, Syria. At the beginning, Aisha and her family lived in a very small room that they barely fit in and their living conditions were devastating.

The Tartous region has been relatively peaceful during the war in Syria. However, while a significant portion of the governorate is not directly affected by major armed conflict, it has continued to register a huge inflow of families fleeing other parts of the country. Women and children, usually the first to flee from insecurities and deteriorating living conditions, account for the largest percentage.


  • 119 people trained in plumbing, of which 39 were female
  • 1,324 businesses, including farming inputs, restored in six governorates
  • 14,186 jobs created
  • 1,066,375 people benefited- 58,613 directly and 1,007,762 indirectly

The governorate received about 452,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and around 258,507 of them are in need of humanitarian assistance. Around 1,600 families reside in 21 collective shelters: 15 of them are located in Tartous city and 6 in the other districts. As a result of the sustained influx of new people, the governate’s resources are completely overstretched and reaching a breaking point.

The increased number of IDPs in Tartous has weakened social services and limited the capacity of the local municipalities to conduct sanitation maintenance and repairs in shelters and host communities. As a result, water pipes break down, leading to large amounts of waste and the formation of water swamps in shelters, and increasing the spread of diseases, insects and rodents.

As part of its Early Recovery and Resilience Programme in Syria, UNDP supports an initiative to provide job opportunities in the field of plumbing to a number of IDPs and host community members in Tartous (and vocational traning in rural Damascus and Aleppo). Beneficiaries receive tool kits and on-the-job training on how to use these kits to repair damaged pipes or other plumbing fixtures. The project eventually provides trainees with jobs and income security.

This initiative is part of the “EU Support for Emergency Restoration and Stabilization of Livelihoods in Affected Syrian Communities” project, funded by the EU, which focuses in part on emergency employment, livelihood restorations, and support to women-headed households and persons with disabilities.

Aisha saw an opportunity to improve her family’s life. "Necessity is the mother of invention," she said. “There is nothing wrong if a woman worked to help her husband. Together we can make a more productive outcome.”
Aisha joined the plumbing project from its early beginning and using the drainage tool kit given to her, she started fixing water foists within the shelter and improving her income.

Her main concern was being able to provide the necessary needs for her children, along with educating them and buying their school necessities. "The most important thing for me is to be able to send my children to school. I’ll use the money to buy their school uniforms," she said.

In Tartous, 40 people received on-the-job training and benefited from three month employment opportunities during the project period. 119 people were trained in rural Damascus and 46 in Aleppo. Aisha was one of the 39 females overall benefiting from the project.

Using the money she earned from working in this project, she and her husband were also able to build a second room, which significantly enhanced their living situation. "Syrian women are strong and they are capable of working in any field, there are no exclusive jobs for men," she said with a smile in her face.

Through the larger programme, the project supported the restoration of 1,324 businesses and farming inputs in six governorates in Syria. The revived businesses varied in nature and were prioritized by local communities based on demand, local knowledge and resources.

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