From Where I Stand: “A woman needs to be strong and stand on her own feet”

27-year-old Sahem Hussein and her family fled from the war in Syria to Turkey in 2012. After surviving many hardships in Turkey, she discovered the SADA Women Empowerment and Solidarity Centre, which provides livelihood skills and psycho-social services to refugee and local women in Gaziantep, near Turkey’s southern border with Syria.

Date: Sunday, May 19, 2019

Originally published on UN Women Europe and Central Asia’s website.

Sahem Hussein. Photo: UN Women/Sinem Aydin Lopez

When we first fled to Istanbul, we had a very difficult time as we couldn’t speak Turkish and didn’t have our identity cards. I used to work as an obstetrical nurse in Syria, but didn’t have my diploma with me. So, we all started working in the textile industry. Our Turkish neighbours were very nice and helpful. The house we rented was empty and each of the neighbours gave us some furniture. One of them also taught me Turkish.

I heard about the SADA Women’s Empowerment and Development Centre here in Gaziantep. At SADA, I completed a hospital registration course and got my certificate. In the course, I also learnt how to use a computer.

I was really exhausted emotionally and the SADA Center was a relief for me. We really enjoyed the course and had fun together. It felt like my old good days! I made new friends with whom I cried and laughed.

Our instructor always told us that a woman needs to be strong and stand on her own feet. She helped me get a job doing translation and secretarial work for one of their suppliers. I started to work there as a translator and secretary fulltime. Now, I can save for my children’s future, who live with their paternal grandparents as I can’t afford childcare.

The SADA Center gave me friends as close as family members and it empowered me, so I was able to get a job. It’s important to empower women. My message to refugee women is: don’t let anyone break you. Don’t wait for someone to do something for you, stay strong and stand on your own feet.”


      Close to 1800 women and 800 girls have registered with SADA Women-only Centre so far to benefit from vocational courses, trainings and other counselling services. Recent new funding from the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the ‘Madad Fund’ helps to scale up significantly UN Women’s targeted intervention in Turkey and joins funding from the Government of Japan. It is an important and timely contribution to address women’s empowerment priorities in the context of the Syrian crisis regional response and towards the achievement of the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals. Ms. Elabo’s story relates to the Sustainable Development Goals on achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls ( SDG 5), promoting decent work and productive employment for all ( SDG 8), on facilitating safe migration and mobility of people ( SDG 10) and promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development ( SDG 16).