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Jinishian Memorial Program
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Eliza Minasyan 
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Women’s sewing co-op generates income and hope

Kamishly is an old city located in the far Northeastern corner of Syria — near the borders of Turkey and Iraq. Agriculture is the main source of income and employment for the majority of the residents in the area. Traditionally, Syria is a male dominated society; women often have limited access to education and jobs.

As a first step in addressing the need for jobs for women, the Jinishian Memorial Program (JMP) formed focus groups with women who were eager to contribute to the economic well-being of their families but lacked the education, knowledge and self-esteem to find suitable employment opportunities. During the focus groups the women said they had sewing skills but did not have sewing equipment, a safe working environment or market to sell any products.

As a result of the meetings, JMP and six women from the community designed a sewing project as a means to enhance skills and create job opportunities for mothers and young women who were forced to drop out of school at an early age.

Jinishian provided the start up capital and workspace. Volunteer tailors trained the women in pattern design and the latest sewing techniques. With assistance from JMP, the women identified a market — good quality choir robes and school uniforms were needed in the community.

The outcome was amazing. After only six months of work, there was enough profit to repay JMP for the sewing equipment and provide a satisfactory income for the women. The satisfaction among community members led to an increase in orders, and many came to seek alterations.

The women could finally contribute financially to their families for education, health care and food. More importantly, the women gained self-esteem and respect.

Ani Cholakian
Country Director, Syria
Jinishian Memorial Program

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