The Basmat al-Maarat project is helping to providing jobs for women living in Maarat Numan in Idlib Province.
In the town of Maarat al-Numan, which is located in the south of Syria’s Idlib Province, a new project has commenced that seeks to empower local women and heighten their role in society.
Entitled “Basmat al-Maar’at”, the project will train women on making dairy products and support them in obtaining the raw ingredients needed to begin their work. This includes providing financial support to kickstart the initiative along with 200 litres of milk for yoghurt and cheese production.
“A month and a half ago, I started to bring milk and produce dairy products by myself,” said Yassira Ahmed, one of the women who now benefits from the support given by this project. “I produce yoghurt, labneh, cheese, and the situation is good.”
The project trains the women for up to 4-5 months and supports both local women from Maarat al-Numan as well as those displaced to the area from other parts of the country.
The UN estimates that 3 million people are currently residing in Idlib Province up from its pre-war population that totalled only 1.5 million.
Many people have fled their homes more than once and a large proportion of the displaced have come from former Opposition-held areas, such as East Ghouta, Homs, Daraa, and Aleppo.
With potential conflict looming, the UN believes that up to 800,000 civilians could be displaced, with most likely to enter neighbouring Turkey, which is already home to 3.5 million Syrian refugees.
Despite the daily occurrence of clashes and the threat of further conflict in the province, projects such as “Bismat al-Maa’rat,” which is supported by the Balad Organisation, provide an outlet for local women and offer them a means of securing a livelihood for their families, with many now widowed due to the seven-year Syrian Conflict.
With the training split into numerous production cycles, including theoretical and practical training, the project is increasing the skills of local women and it is a welcome boost to a community afflicted by conflict. It is also a victory for local civil society organisations that have been heavily stifled in recent times by militant groups, most prominently Hayy’at Tahrir al-Sham, which operates and rules over large parts of Idlib Province.
“The aim of the project is to educate the beneficiaries on the profession of dairy production,” said Mohammed al-Hasri, an engineer and the director of the project. “The project is aimed at women who provide for their families, the duration of the project is 5 months, and we have four production cycles.”