Women and work: improving gender integration in the livelihoods response to the Syrian crisis



This report was commissioned by the UNDP Sub-Regional Response Facility (SRF) (for the Syria Crisis) in Amman, Jordan, as a follow-up to the Jobs Make the Difference report (JMD), released by UNDP, ILO, and WFP in 2017, and was generously supported with funding by the Government of Finland. The objective of this study is to explore the degree to which women’s needs and experiences are being actively addressed in the design and implementation of livelihoods programs in the context of the Syria crisis, building off the Jobs Make the Difference report produced by ILO, UNDP, and WFP. Understanding the context, in terms of what employment patterns existed among Syrian women before the crisis as well as the political, economic, and institutional contexts in each of four host communities, is key. Based on field work carried out in Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, as well as remote interviews with partners in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), UNDP discuss a number of gender specific challenges that women face that were not included in the Jobs Make the Difference report and identify a number of promising gender-responsive approach.

Authors detail some of the key impediments to women accessing economic opportunities including transportation problems, lack of childcare, gender norms, and labor conditions. They also highlight key challenges more specifically related to gender-sensitive livelihoods programming in the response to the Syrian crisis, such as gender experts being located off-site, short programming cycles which can have unintended consequences on livelihood initiatives, and internalized norms/stereotypes around both ethnicity and gender that place artificial, and often unhelpful, limits on programming. In the conclusion, UNDP provide recommendations for a comprehensive approach to incorporating women into the livelihoods component of the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) including loosening restrictions on Syrian women who already have education and work experience, expanding traditional fields for women such as agriculture, education, and healthcare, and providing training and other types of support to women interested in pursuing non-traditional livelihood opportunities such as information technology (IT) and construction.

Aside from programmatic recommendations, the report also focus on a few structural challenges that require attention. These include knowledge gaps, both at the individual level and in terms of data and analysis, siloization, a focus on short term results, and funding streams that are not sufficiently coordinated. A number of these suggestions can be implemented relatively easily, while others will require both time and political will.

A group of women behind a red background with cogs
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