In addition to recovering from the violent conflict that has plagued the area, many women are now the sole financial providers for their family as male family members have either been killed by ISIS or their whereabouts are still unknown. When we conducted a needs-assessment with 200 women from the Rwanga Community, the majority requested help in implementing an income-generating program, specifically sewing. Our research showed that female Yezidi survivors want an opportunity to financially provide for their families while also creating a supportive community environment to recover from the atrocities they've experienced.
Sewing Sisters, a 3-month-long training program, officially launched in November 2016 in the Lotus Flower Women's Centre in the Rwanga Community Camp. The students were taught on sewing machines and we provided all materials needed while they completed the course. Women who were unable to read or write were also able to participate in our adult literacy course prior to beginning Sewing Sisters. At the end of the course term, all women received a professional certificate and the opportunity to work through local contracts in the community in order to generate an income. Some women also received a sewing machine for their homes in order to be able to continue production there, with the hope that funds can be raised to provide machines for all graduates.
By offering professional training and connections to the local market, this economic livelihood program is expected to lead to women's future long-term stability, empowerment, and financial independence.