Panel 4A

A Gendered Approach to Employment of Syrian Refugees

9: 00 – 11.00
Chair: Lorraine Charles, The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

Discussant: Isobel B Kingscott, The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

Gender and Social Entrepreneurship in the Syria Crisis

Angela M. Solomanc, Jaleesa

Neighbouring countries’ responses to their populations of Syrian refugees are transitioning from temporary to longer-term measures. Social enterprises, particularly tech-driven initiatives, are emerging as an alternative source of livelihoods for refugees and underprivileged host communities. Community-driven businesses, with their own revenue stream, are seen as a way to avoid aid-dependency and mitigate the risk of donor disengagement in future years.  Women are taking on the role of breadwinner, decision maker and protector of the family for the first time. But for legal, social, educational and skills-related reasons, many remain estranged from the workforce. Many social enterprise initiatives appear to focus on women: is this empirically the case, what are the reasons for this, and does this leave men at a disadvantage?   Most social enterprises in Lebanon and Jordan remain small. It’s not yet clear whether this type of responsive social entrepreneurship can or should be funded by governments: the risks of destabilising existing markets or capital flows are unquantified and largely unknown. But some donors are venturing into this field. Should they? And if they do, should they put in place policies to address any gender gap in social entrepreneurship– or let the market regulate itself?  Through interviews and research with social entrepreneurs, UN bodies, venture capitalists, business experts, philanthropists, academic institutions and tech hackers, I will seek to identify the crucial ingredients for success in social enterprise, in the Syria response context. I will explore whether and why women may benefit disproportionately from social entrepreneurship, and will seek to highlight success stories that could be replicable beyond this context.

Inclusion of Syrian Women into the Turkish Labour Market: Women Entrepreneurship to the Rescue

Selin Yildiz Nielsen, Glocally Connected

In the 6th year of the conflict in Syria, Turkey hosts more than 3 million refugees within her borders. The Temporary Protection status allows limited economic, social, educational and legal safeguards to the refugee population. This limitation has caused the economic survival more and more difficult. Refugee women are especially vulnerable of not being included in the labour market for cultural, social, educational, and safety reasons. The lack of inclusion of women in the labour market causes many problems such as child labour, beggary, prostitution, poverty, poor health, and many other social and economical problems to the refugee population as well as the hosting communities.  There are certain attempts by several Turkish and European agencies and organizations to address this problem, however, the lack of accurate information, difficulty of researching that particular population of women, and looking at the problem as an isolated refugee problem as opposed to a holistic approach of a Turkish societal problem, has rendered few solutions. As an attempt to have a deeper understanding of the problem at hand, and to evaluate the potential entrepreneurship opportunities especially, but not exclusively for refugee women, EBRD has developed a framework that combines Education, Regional Support, Collaboration, and Regulatory reform as the four pillars of a multi faceted approach to a labour market solution that takes a holistic outlook.  This presentation will unpack some of the most important reasons of the limitations, common misperceptions and offer potential solutions for inclusion of Syrian Women into the Labour Market.

Syrian Refugee Men and Livelihoods Agenda in Jordan

Lewis Turner, School of Oriental & African Studies

Syrian men hold 96% of the work permits issued to Syrians in Jordan and 75% of the ‘cash-for-work’ opportunities in Za’tari camp. This paper interrogates this gendered distribution of livelihoods opportunities, and asks what it reveals about the gendered norms of both Syrian refugee communities and the humanitarian sector. Syrian men’s overwhelming desire to work is a reflection of dire economic circumstances, but also speaks to the power that the idealized vision of the male breadwinner holds for many Syrians, even in a context where one third of households are ‘female-headed.’   For some in the humanitarian sector, the gender imbalance in terms of livelihoods opportunities is a cause for intervention, a gendered injustice to be corrected. For others, it is an unavoidable reflection of prevailing social norms among Syrian communities. This paper argues that the humanitarian sector’s divergent views reveal different aspects of its gendered engagement with Syrian refugees. Syrian men are assumed to be independent and autonomous – financially, socially, and emotionally, whereas Syrian women are understood to be ‘vulnerable’ objects of intervention. These ideas converge in efforts to implement positive discrimination for Syrian women in the field of livelihoods, which have thus far had limited success. That such efforts are more successful in camps invites reflections on the workings of humanitarian power, and how encampment enables the implementation of humanitarian goals.  This paper is based on twelve months of fieldwork in Jordan, including extensive participant observation in Za’tari camp, and interviews with Syrians and humanitarian ????