FAO tackles gender issues in rural communities with pioneering pilot projects

©FAO/Bayan Ksiebi


Long-standing negative social norms can perpetuate Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) as certain harmful practices can result in the prevalence of gender-based violence (GBV). Early marriage and economic violence are two forms of GBV that are very common in rural farming communities in Syria. In response, FAO is implementing two pilot projects to promote the prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls in Homs and Rural Damascus governorates.

The prevention of VAWG pilots are implemented by FAO under the Building Local Resilience in Syria (BLRS) project, funded by UK Aid, and in collaboration with UNFPA. The pilots target a total of 3 000 individuals in 31 villages across both governorates and are a push towards achieving long-term social and economic empowerment, greater gender equality in rights and responsibilities, and greater agency and autonomy for women and girls.

The pilots consist of two interventions which are being pioneered by FAO for the first time in the Near East – North Africa (NENA) region. These interventions are designed to complement each other through a gender-transformative approach that addresses VAWG on both the community level through the implementation of Dimitra Clubs, and on the household level with the Discussion Group Series (DGS).

“Economic violence happens in many forms,” says Suzan Al-Ostaz, FAO’s national gender specialist. “Many women in rural communities work for little to no wage and end up having no control over their income or get excluded from discussions on household economics. They are also often unable to access the resources that are needed to empower themselves economically due to discrimination.” she adds.

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