Foundation for the Support of Women's Work

Foundation for the Support of Women's Work

Kadın Emeğini Değerlendirme Vakfı (KEDV)

FSWW works for the creation of more equal societies by promoting grassroots women’s leadership and empowerment. 

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Partner Focus Areas

Grassroots women’s leadership and organizing
Women-led community development and elimination of poverty
Women’s participation in disaster preparedness and response

Partnership Highlights

Partner since 2002
Grassroots leadership training for women’s cooperatives
Promoting Syrian women’s leadership, employability, and entrepreneurship
Gender equality in disaster preparedness
Read more
Participants at TOT in Turkey
Participants at a FSWW Training of Trainers workshop conduct monitoring and evaluation activities.

About FSWW

Founded in 1986, the Foundation for the Support of Women's Work (FSWW) empowers women in Turkey to build resilient communities, free from poverty and inequality. FSWW works across Turkey through partnerships with women's cooperatives, reaching approximately 20,000 women annually. It also partners with regional and international networks and confederations such as Huairou Commission, GROOTS International (Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood), OXFAM International, and WLP. FSWW has supported the establishment of dozens of women’s cooperatives, over 20 women-run Women and Children's Centers, as well as three shops and an e-trade website to sell the cooperatives' products. FSWW believes that a world free from inequalities and poverty will come about through building organized movements of women at the grassroots level. FSWW supports grassroots women who are developing solutions to the challenges they face, and who are advocating for change. Since FSWW joined the WLP partnership in 2002, it has coordinated trainings for thousands of women using WLP’s leadership and political participation curricula. FSWW has recently begun a joint project with WLP partners in Jordan and Lebanon to address the empowerment needs of Syrian refugee women. FSWW works primarily in Turkish, but provides translation for Syrian women. 

Turkey KEDV/FSWW Grassroots leadership workshop for women's cooperative 2012
A group of women participate in a grassroots leadership workshop for women's cooperatives.

Recent Accomplishments

  • FSWW works with 70 women’s cooperatives, which operate in a range of sectors, including agriculture, handicrafts, childcare and education, and housing. As a result of FSWW’s expertise, the organization is regularly approached for support and guidance by communities from across the globe wishing to establish their own cooperatives. 
  • FSWW jointly conducted a research study on “Understanding Syrian Refugees in Turkey,” which aimed to generate more comprehensive and representative data on the experiences and expectations of Syrian refugees, to ensure that policies meet their expectations and needs. The report surveys demographic information on refugees, as well as refugee’s ability to access services and employment, disaggregated by gender. The purpose of the report is to present evidence that supports the creation of targeted programs and policies that meet the needs of refugees, especially women refugees.
  • In 2016, FSWW became one of the founding members of the Turkish Refugee Council, a national body of Turkey-based CSOs working with Syrian refugees to foster better coordination and advocacy on their behalf.    
  • In 2015, Turkey hosted the G20 Summit, a meeting of the world’s 19 largest economies plus the EU. FSWW acted as a member of the steering committee of the Civil 20 (C20), led by CSOs to influence the priorities of the G20 Summit. FSWW’s executive director, Şengül Akçar, was co-chair of the C20 Gender Equality Working Group, which brought together representatives of global women’s networks, including WLP, to develop and include women’s perspectives and policy recommendations in the final communiqué submitted to G20 leaders.
  • In 2014, FSWW developed a new program and manual on “Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction through Women's Leadership,” following a pilot phase which included capacity building and training with 2,700 grassroots women using WLP’s leadership manuals. The pilot phase was conducted in partnership with Ilk Adim Women’s Cooperative (part of the FSWW network), the District Municipality, and İstanbul Technical University. The new program enables women to organize, identify the risks in their communities, develop action plans for disaster preparedness, and build partnerships with local authorities to put their plans into action. 
  • In 2012, the FSWW took a leading role as the secretariat in the process of formalizing Turkey’s network of women’s cooperatives and establishing the Union of Women’s Cooperatives. 
Turkey KEDV/FSWW Nahil women's cooperative storefront in Istanbul
The Nahil shop run by FSWW sells goods produced by women's cooperatives in Istanbul.

Organizational Programs and Activities

Grassroots Women's Cooperatives

  • FSWW was an early catalyst for the women’s cooperative movement in Turkey. Cooperatives allow grassroots women to formally register women-run, politically impartial civil society organizations capable of organizing and implementing public activities, handling money and assets, and managing their own affairs. Through establishing the cooperatives, FSWW helps women to develop leadership, business, and negotiation skills, and to learn to engage with decision-makers to negotiate their rights and to demand changes in laws and policies. 
  • FSWW builds linkages amongst Turkey’s women’s cooperatives. FSWW established a union of cooperatives to facilitate communication and collaboration. In addition, FSWW links women in Turkey to their counterparts in other parts of the world— India, Kenya, Indonesia, Lebanon, Jordan, Greece, Germany, the UK, Italy and Portugal—through its active membership in regional and international networks such as GROOTS International, the Huairou Commission, and WLP. 
Feminism is becoming stronger. Women belong to a borderless nation of womanhood. Become a world citizen in your heart and don’t be a shy feminist!
Şirin Tekeli, Feminist Scholar

Capacity Building for Cooperatives, Women and Children Centers, and Individuals 

  • FSWW provides capacity-building support for women’s cooperatives to improve their product and business development, increase the scale of their economic initiatives, and maximize their social impact. FSWW helps cooperatives to identify niche sectors and to develop innovative, economically viable business models. The program increases the engagement of grassroots women in various areas of economic development, including increasing their livelihood and access to services. FSWW helps women to create their own solutions and knowledge through alternative and collective business models, and to increase their access to market and finance through building alliances with the private sector and others. 
  • FSWW supports the establishment of women-run Women and Children Centers, over 20 to-date. FSWW trains women in how to establish childcare centers based on their specific needs, in their specific communities. FSWW shows them how to mobilize local resources, and how to provide early childhood education and support for mothers. FSWW’s Women and Children Centers have served as a model for similar programs in Canada, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, and the United States.
  • FSWW provides basic entrepreneurship-skills training (entrepreneurship and financial literacy trainings, mentoring, networking, product development, and marketing) for low income women to run micro business enterprises. FSWW founded Turkey’s first microfinance institution, Maya, in 2002 to provide microloans to women who want to start or grow their micro businesses.
FSWW currently reaches over 20,000 women per year through 70 women-led cooperatives including 11 childcare centers, in 60 out of 81 provinces in Turkey.
Participants at FSWW TOT
Participants at a FSWW Training of Trainers workshop conduct monitoring and evaluation activities.

Grassroots Women's Engagement in Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Support

  • FSWW is transforming humanitarian assistance into pro-poor, pro-women, and pro-community development initiatives. Since the 1999 Marmara earthquake, FSWW has worked on disaster preparedness and relief, focusing on women’s roles in preparing and rebuilding communities. FSWW has developed programs to support women in facilitating needs assessments, information collection and dissemination, and planning and implementing basic services for women and children. 
  • FSWW works with refugee and migrant women in Turkey so that they have access to services, and have proper support and resources to be able to determine their own empowerment strategies. More recently, FSWW has begun building the capacities of refugee women and helping them to establish their own cooperatives. FSWW also works to integrate refugee women into established cooperatives. 
  • FSWW participates in international disaster relief planning, and lobbies other organizations to integrate gender-mainstreaming into their preparedness and relief programming. FSWW’s expertise has been sought by organizations in India, Indonesia, Iran, and elsewhere, following disasters. 
Solidarity is a very empowering process. I think sharing and being with one another is something that women need, and I think at times when there are very serious political attacks or backlashes on women, this solidarity is immediately [converted] into campaigns. . . [With solidarity] you are truly a global entity.

,Former UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women

About Turkey

  • Population: 83 million
  • Slightly larger than the U.S. state of Texas, Turkey occupies a strategic location controlling the Turkish Straits (Bosporus, Sea of Marmara, Dardanelles) that link the Black and Aegean Seas. 
  • Economy: Ranked 11th in the world
  • Discrimination based on gender is banned by the Turkish constitution, and Turkey was the first country to sign and ratify the 2011 Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence and Domestic Violence against Women. 
  • Government: Presidential Republic
  • Legal system: Civil law system based on various European legal systems, notably the Swiss civil code
  • Religions: Muslim 99.8% (mostly Sunni), other 0.2% (mostly Christians and Jews)
  • Seats held by women in national parliament: 17%
  • Labor force: 31.9% female
  • Female literacy: 94.4%
  • Maternal mortality rate: 17 deaths per 100,000 live births
  • Citizenship: At least one parent must be a citizen of Turkey
Turkey KEDV/FSWW Women's and Children's Center
A group enjoys a snack at a women-run Women and Children's Center supporting female entrepreneurs in Turkey.
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