Foundation for the Support of Women's Work (FSWW), established in 1986, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It supports grassroots women's leadership throughout Turkey and empowers them in improving the quality of their lives and of their communities. It works with formal or informal women groups in a principled partnership and collaborates with other sectors. The FSWW has Public interest status and tax exemption. The FSWW believes that women's empowerment is not a sole economic issue. It requires strategies integrating transfer of economic resources and democratic participation at all levels, elimination of gender discrimination and exclusion from cultural, politi... read more Foundation for the Support of Women's Work (FSWW), established in 1986, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It supports grassroots women's leadership throughout Turkey and empowers them in improving the quality of their lives and of their communities. It works with formal or informal women groups in a principled partnership and collaborates with other sectors. The FSWW has Public interest status and tax exemption. The FSWW believes that women's empowerment is not a sole economic issue. It requires strategies integrating transfer of economic resources and democratic participation at all levels, elimination of gender discrimination and exclusion from cultural, political and social arena. The FSWW adopts an empowerment approach of supporting women's bottom-up organizing efforts around their practical needs and building greater self reliance and confidence to meet their more strategic gender issues. Based on this approach, the main empowerment strategies of FSWW are, Provision of public spaces for grassroots women to operate , Capacity building to support grassroots women's organizing efforts and social and livelihood initiatives, and involvement in local governance, Dialogue and negotiation processes to build strategic partnerships at local and national level for resources and recognition, Dissemination of learnings & experience through Networking and Peer Exchanges and publications. FSWW'S WORKING PRINCIPLES *Recognizes the grassroots women's expertise and their power in struggling with poverty and building their lives and their communities, and their rights to define and solve their problems. *Respects grassroots women's own values and avoids alienating them from themselves and their communities. *Believes that equal participation of women in social, economic and political decision making process can only be realized at community and local level, seeks cooperation of local governments and other actors in the society. * Works with grassroots women groups in solidarity as equal partners and its programs are rooted in synergy of women. FSWW PROGRAMS FSWW works with grassroots women groups at local level and carries out the following programs in cooperation with them: 1- Early Child Care and Education Program FSWW develops alternative ways in expanding early child care and education services to low-income communities, through the leadership and advocacy role of grassroots women. With an educational approach bringing the children, families, educators and the community together, women cooperatively manage high quality early childcare and education programs. This program is accredited by Vanderbilt University (USA). Based on the local needs and the resources, child care and education services are provided through: Parent-managed Day Care Centers: Community mothers establish and run community based child care and education centers for children of 3-6 years and cooperate with public and other relevant agencies. Neighborhood Mothers: Experienced mothers are trained to provide child care and education services to 3-4 young children at their own homes. Play Rooms: Children are provided with collective spaces arranged for learning thoroughly play and creative activities under the control of their mothers. 2- Collective Capacity Building and Organizing Program FSWW's participatory and process oriented approach aims to strengthen grassroots' women's capacity and networking to identify and produce solutions to their common problems, develop self-advocacy skills and become active partners in the local decision making process through such tools; Training :Participatory training programs on such issues as Leadership, Financial Literacy, Entrepreneurship, Basic IT Skills, Political Participation, etc) are developed to provide women the skills and knowledge in dealing with the issues they concern. Study Tours: New groups are provided to study and learn about good practices of mature groups dealing with similar issues. Exchange Meetings: Grassroots women groups are brought together in peers to share their experiences and to learn from each other at local, national and international level. Leadership and Organizing support: Through this program, women groups are trained and supported to increase their leadership skills and organize around their strategic needs and turn into independent, registered local organizations. Through this program, the FSWW achieved to create a grassroots women's movement and created more than 110 women cooperatives all around Turkey. It has also brought these cooperatives in a network and established a formal Union of Women Cooperatives, and started a policy advocacy process for more favorable environment for women cooperatives in areas of tax, registration and access to public resources issues, and recognition as social businesses. The FSWW through its Cooperative Support Center provides women cooperatives technical assistance, consultancy and program support including training of trainers for dissemination of FSWW programs, organizational strategic planning, business development, marketing, etc. It also provides networking and knowledge sharing platforms through web portals and peer exchange meetings, regional and national meetings. These cooperatives engaged in providing community based child care services, training and capacity building for community women, running economic enterprises and building negotiation processes with the local decision makers, reaching annually around 100 000 women. Dialogue Building Meetings: FSWW helps local women cooperatives to come together with other sectors (municipalities, public agencies, universities and other NGOs) for information sharing, visibility, recognition and accessing to resources. In this framework, the FSWW piloted a Gender Based Local Budget analysis and provided the grassroots women with a tool based on "rights" to negotiate with the local governments for resource allocation to their priorities. 3- Economic Empowerment Programs FSWW initiated the following programs in order to build women's capacity for economic involvement. Business and Product Development: Training and monitoring support is provided to enable women to develop business ideas by analyzing the existing local economic and market opportunities and their own skills, and new products with market potential are developed and women's skills are improved accordingly. Micro Credit: FSWW has established a micro credit institution, MAYA. As the first micro credit program of Turkey, it provides credit to women to start or improve their small businesses, till now distributed more than 11.700 loans. Marketing/ Shop: FSWW established a shop at the ground floor of its own building in Istanbul, where various kinds of products (handmade accessories, decorations etc.) produced by individual women producers and women cooperatives from all around Turkey. The women's products are also marketed through internet on the shop's web site and other e-commerce sites. FSWW also created second hand bazaar under the same name, with local branches run by women initiatives, the profit of which together with Nahl shop, goes to support collective initiatives to run community based child care services. 4- Women and Disaster Program: From Disaster to Development The FSWW has actively involved in the post disaster efforts after the 17 August 1999 earthquake. It has managed to set up eight Women and Children centers' in the region, which are run by women themselves. FSWW enabled women to move from being victims of disaster to active participants in transferring their communities from disaster areas to development. They organized in 6 registered independent organizations working in issues like governance, housing and reconstruction, economic initiatives/sustainability and child care and other community services, additional to a housing cooperative of women. Since 1999, FSWW is cooperating with other organizations in India, Iran, Indonesia etc. with similar experiences as a part of global working group on "Women and Disaster", in order to influence the policies of governments, multinational development and humanitarian agencies to turn a "disaster" into an opportunity for sustainable community development. Based on its experience in post disaster efforts, the FSWW recently started a piloting project in Istanbul cooperating with Istanbul Technical University, for community disaster preparedness under the leadership of women.
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