In Turkey, fashion creates jobs

Back in 2009, female entrepreneurs in Turkey, with the help of the country’s fashion industry have created an innovative new apparel line - one that also boosts the economic prospects for women in Turkey’s Southeast Anatolia region.

For Fatma, divorced at the age of 19 and living at her parents’ house with two kids, life used to be difficult.

“I loved my husband but it did not work,” said Fatma, who lives in Turkey. “He cheated on me. I had no profession and no job. I did not know what to do.”

But Fatma’s life changed after she met with Argande brand.

As part of the ‘Innovations for Women's Empowerment in Southeast Anatolia’ project, Argande clothes and accessories are designed by renowned fashion designers in Istanbul and manufactured by women in Southeast Anatolia. The products are sold online and in retail stores in Turkey, and the women working in the project are provided with insurance and a salary.

The project is implemented jointly by UNDP and the GAP Regional Development Administration and financed by the Swedish International Cooperation and Development Agency (SIDA) to increase business management and entrepreneur skills of women in Southeast Anatolia.

The project, with its multiplier effect, helped establish textile factories and ateliers in Southeastern Anatolia, employing over 5,000 people.

Highlights

  • The project, with its multiplier effect, helped establish textile factories and ateliers in Southeastern Anatolia, employing over 5,000 people.
  • Over 1,000 women learned about gender equality, reproductive health and communication skills.
  • Around 1,200 women and 400 men participated in trainings on topics of ready-made clothing, quality control, cooperatives, communication and gender equality.

Argande has led to accelerate the growth pattern of ready-made clothing sector and almost 18 textile factories and 60 textile ateliers were founded in Batman.

Women’s labour participation rate in Turkey was as low as 29.5 percent in 2012, and 37 percent of women in the labour market work as unpaid family workers, whereas the same rate for men is as low as 5.2 percent.

Female labour participation rate further decreases to 9.8 percent in Southeast Anatolia. Even when women find employment, they generally receive lower incomes and less social security coverage than men do.

Since 2008, more than 4,300 women have generated incomes through project-supported activities with Argande project. Multi-purpose community Centers and local initiatives were supported by developing marketing linkages, providing equipment and raw material. Around 1,200 women and 400 men participated in various trainings on topics such as ready-made clothing, quality control, cooperatives, communication and gender equality.

“So many things have been changed in my life after I started to work for Argande,” Fatma says. “The most important change is that I can put my children through school now. I started to live in my own apartment. It is almost impossible for a woman in the eastern side of Turkey to earn money and live alone with her children. But now I believe I can make all these things happen.”

What is going on with Argande now?

Completing its activities in Batman, Argande has moved its production atelier to Kilis in order to continue its positive contributions in other cities of Turkey and provide employment opportunities for many more women.

Experiences and professional expertise acquired during the project will continue to be used in other cities in order to create more employment for women.  

Hence the production atelier of Argande has moved to Kilis at the beginning of 2015. Argande will continue to reach out women in Kilis as well as in Batman.

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