UNDP marks International Women’s Day by celebrating women’s resilience in earthquake recovery

March 8, 2024

Recipients of Sweden-funded “earthquake recovery grants” share stories of progress and setbacks as they strive to rebuild their businesses

Hatay, 8 March 2024 – The resilience of women entrepreneurs was in focus today as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) joined forces with the Antakya Chamber of Commerce and Industry to celebrate International Women’s Day in the earthquake-devastated region of Hatay. The event showcased the stories of women business owners who are reviving their businesses with the support of “earthquake recovery grants” awarded by UNDP in 2023 in an effort to restore the region’s economy. 

With US$10 million in funding from Sweden, UNDP disbursed grants to 4,616 small businesses that had suffered damage in the February 2023 earthquakes. Women entrepreneurs received 42 percent of the grants, which averaged US$2,000. All 11 earthquake-affected provinces benefited from the program, and the sectors covered included manufacturing, retail, hospitality, healthcare and professional services. 

“In a situation of almost infinite need, we opted to focus our limited resources on small businesses headed by women,” explained UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton. “By putting our faith in women’s strength, resolve and ingenuity, we aimed to trigger a much broader recovery. We see now that, alongside the evident positive economic results, our grant program has also had a huge psychological impact by giving earthquake survivors, who often feel isolated and abandoned, a signal of solidarity and hope.” 

Given the disproportionate destruction experienced in Hatay, grants worth nearly US$1.8 million were distributed to 930 small businesses in the province, with women accounting for 48 percent of recipients. 

Several of these grantees told their stories at the UNDP panel discussion organized for International Women’s Day. Atra Küçükrecep lost her souvenir shop in the disaster and used her grant to resume production of handmade mosaics at home; Esin İyiel, a pharmacist, used the funding to restock medicines; and Pelin Bulğurcu, a manufacturer of construction chemicals, purchased raw materials.  

A broader perspective on the role of women in post-disaster recovery was provided by Çiğdem Kıral, President of the Women Entrepreneurs Board (KAGID) in Hatay, and Saniye Dedeoğlu, a professor at Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University. Both speakers underlined the abundant economic and social benefits of investing in women, both for individuals and the wider society, and in normal times as well as in crisis.  

For more information

Esra Özçeşmeci, Communications Associate for UNDP in Türkiye, esra.ozcesmeci@undp.org