Silk Road Women's Cooperative

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Silk Road Women's Cooperative

Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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Berna Yagci is creating women's community centers in southeast Turkey where for the first time women may gather in a public space to learn and be trained to take leadership in improving their lives. She has established a concrete method of generating income through an official cooperative, Silk Road, where women produce handicrafts and artisan soaps. Her work gives women decision-making power in a 2,000-year old patriarchal culture that is still immersed in a century of military and political conflict.

About Project

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Berna, from the Arabic-speaking area of Mardin, has designed a new community space for women in a strife-ridden area of southeast Turkey. Beginning with a physical gathering place that is also a daycare center, Berna provides women with literacy education, vocational training, and concrete ways to earn an income. Her work gives women an unprecedented opportunity to become agents of change both in their own lives and in the fabric of their communities. Nothing could be more important in this part of Turkey, where citizen action is desperately needed. Berna's community centers for women are the first development initiatives led by a Mardin woman. She negotiated for municipal space to be designated only for women and transformed it and other similar spaces into places of learning, training, and income generation. Participating women are empowered to demand their rights and those of their children. They are more capable of negotiating with local officials about matters that affect their families and communities and of having an income that provides them with new freedoms. For Berna, the centers are vehicles to break down stereotypes about women's capacity to contribute to society. With the initial success of Berna's first center, she opened another outside Mardin. Her model has generated interest in similarly poor cities of southeast Turkey and neighboring Syria. Her goal is to expand a straightforward but powerful model that gives women the ability and confidence to create change, both in Turkey and in nearby Arab nations.