Women in agriculture: cooking their way to empowerment and visibility

I am a married woman and a housewife. Our village in the Akkar area is very rural, that means a girl grows up
learning how to cook and how to do everything around
the house from her youth. The first time I’ve worked in my life
has been here in IRC. I learned new types of dishes. We used to prepare many dishes using
potatoes, but here we learned new recipes. I also learned how to have more self-confidence. In the past we used to say: “No, we don’t have the courage. No, we can’t.
No, it’s difficult for us to speak to people.” But now we’ve gained courage, and
I in particular have gained courage. It’s true that the presence of Syrians
amongst us has created a crisis for us, and making a living has become
harder and there are fewer jobs. But despite everything, I feel sorry for them,
because they are human beings too. When we were in Syria, our financial
situation was much better than it is here. We came here as refugees, and my husband began to work as
a labourer, and I was sitting at home. The first work opportunity
I received was here at this centre. It is of course a great feeling to get out
and see new things, to work, to make some money,
and to help others make money too. God willing, we will be able
to help our children in the future. This training targets developing women’s skills, and specifically skills
that can be implemented at home. The training is on food preparation, to enable the production of food
in order to generate income. We aim to develop skills to enable
people to rely on themselves and to create work opportunities. Souk El Tayeb is training a group
of women to promote their development and to give them skills. Regarding this group in particular, the aim is to address a problem
facing the area of Akkar, which is the surplus of potatoes
and leafy greens. This is an issue which very much concerns us, and when we met the women in Akkar, we saw how enthusiastic
they were about developing themselves and developing this area and helping, even if only in a small way,
to address this problem. The project is trying to strengthen
the resilience of the host communities in light of the Syrian refugee crisis, in an area that is generally
very vulnerable which is Akkar. Our starting point is a sector which is
very predominant for income generation which is the agricultural sector. The production went down
as a result of loss of markets, so the farmers can’t export any more, which is not the fault of the Syrian
refugee crisis as such in the country, but of the economic implications
of the conflict in Syria itself. The idea is that one family does not necessarily
only have to rely on potato production itself, they can then produce something out of these
potatoes that add value to the primary product and find other channels for distributing it. Because women have a very invisible role,
in particular the farmers’ wives, they work on the fields
but they don’t get paid for it, they don’t get the credit for selling
the produce, for producing it, so what we are trying to do is showcase that women can also have a very visible and
important role in such a value chain. The women can later also
expand on their production line and maybe include other produce
that they are working on.

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