Press release: European Union–UN Women partnership bolsters efforts in response to Syrian crisis

EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis steps up its support to women’s empowerment in Jordan, Iraq and Turkey through a EUR 12.5 million investment.


Pursuing joint efforts against gender-based violence, the European Union (EU) and UN Women today launched a women’s rights and empowerment programme aimed at strengthening the resilience of Syrian women and girls and host communities in Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. This is the first agreement with UN Women under the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the “Madad Fund”.

This integrated programme aims to reach 60,000 people in need, predominantly women living in situations characterized by increasing domestic violence, isolation and economic insecurity. It will address economic vulnerability and violence by increasing women’s access to financial assets and recovery and income opportunities, while providing immediate and life-saving protection services.

Placing women and women’s organizations at the forefront of the regional response to the Syrian crisis and with a long-term view, the programme focuses both on improving service delivery with efforts to enhance women’s representation and rights, and strengthening national accountability for addressing violence against women. By bringing together different communities and creating spaces for dialogue, the programme seeks to build cohesion for more peaceful societies.

The programme will support women like Rana, who is living in an informal settlement in Iraq, after losing her home, many of her family members, and the life she knew. As the head of her family, Rana is receiving services from a UN Women–supported safe space, while contributing to her community.

“I always look forward to going into the UN Women centre in my area; it is my second home”, says Rana. “It gives me a community to belong to, a sense of purpose and a place for my children to regain their youth. I have always dreamt of opening my own bakery to benefit myself, my family, and those around me. With support from the centre, now I can.”

“Syrian women and girls have been facing extraordinarily challenging circumstances as they cope with losing their homes and sustaining their families”, says Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women. “The economic opportunities and safe spaces we will be creating will be both short-term resources and lifelong skills, supporting them to build sustainable livelihoods, free from violence and poverty. Launching this programme reaffirms the EU’s strong commitment to women’s empowerment and ending violence against women and girls.”

“Almost half of the people affected by the Syria crisis are women, states Michael Kӧhler, Director for Southern Neighbourhood Policy at the European Commission’s DG NEAR. “Women and children often catch the brunt of violent conflict. So far insufficient attention has been paid to their needs, but also to their potential. When we empower women, they will develop sustainable economic and social solutions for themselves and their families. This is why I am particularly pleased that the EU Madad Fund is supporting women and girls.”

Funding from the EU’s Madad Fund will help to scale up significantly UN Women’s targeted interventions in Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, and joins funding from the Government of Japan as 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.

Press release cross-posted from the UN Women Arab States/North Africa Regional Office website. Arabic and Turkish versions will be available there.