It is a windy and warm day in Za’atari camp. The sun is barely visible as a dust storm hits the biggest refugee camp of Jordan, home to almost 80,000 refugees who fled war-thorn Syria.
Walking through one of the camp districts, lively discussions are heard coming from a community centre. About 20 Syrian women, some accompanied by their young children, are gathering together today to celebrate International Women’s Day. ACTED has organised six sessions in six different community centres to discuss the issue of women’s rights such as the right to work, education, participate in political life and run for political office, equality and early marriage. Women also share their personal stories of empowerment in the camp.
This day represents an occasion to celebrate the empowerment and the strength of women like Iman, who takes care alone of her child and her disabled mother. Iman joined ACTED in 2016 as a camp cleaner. Since then, she became a supervisor of a team of camp cleaners and then an active member of ACTED’s Social Mobilization team. She now organises safety sessions for children in the community, hygiene promotion sessions to encourage good hygiene practices and so forth. But to Iman her job does not represent merely the chance to generate an income that would help her support her family, as she explains while walking between the shelters.
This job has also allowed me to develop my personality, the way I interact with people and with my community – it is about self-fulfillment.
As we walk between the construction materials located at ACTED’s technical site, Um Ammar makes her way through pre-casted manholes and repaired bins while she tells us her story. “I arrived in Za’atari with the children of my brother. At the beginning the situation was very bad, we had a lot of problems with the shelters and the bathrooms”. When Um Ammar heard ACTED was recruiting women to join its repair and maintenance team, she decided to apply.
With the skills that I have gained with ACTED, I can now help my sisters and my neighbours to repair their shelters.
With UNICEF support, ACTED has been providing water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) services to refugees living in Za’atari camp since its opening. ACTED activities in the camp include water supply, solid waste management, WASH infrastructure, operation and maintenance and social mobilization.