Weaving a close-knit community

Mohammed Al-Shibli and Ismail Al-Waked are utilizing their skills to build a community where women are empowered to overcome the barriers in their way. Both actively participate in the regular awareness sessions organized by Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) in partnership with UN Women, in the ‘Oasis Centers for Resilience and Empowerment of Women and Girls’. With the generous support of the European Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis (Madad) and the Governments of France and Japan, UN Women and ARDD are engaging and mobilizing 200 Jordanian and Syrian men and boys in a dialogue for social equality to be active agents of change.


Weaving a close knit community

When 34-year-old Syrian refugee Bassam Mohammed Al-Shibli, wakes up in the morning the first thing he does is venture out to the markets in Azraq. Wandering through the markets, he has one key thing he must get: reels of colorful wool. Al-Shibli carefully plucks an assortment and heads back to his family caravan in Azraq refugee camp. 


On Monday's, Al-Shibli returns with with more wool than usual, ensuring extra wool for the weekly knitting session Al-Shibli and his wife holds to bring together women and girls from the community. The reels of colorful wool become intricately knitted baby clothes, scarfs, hats, and home decorations. 


Al-Shibli and his wife first had the idea after Al-Shibli attended a 'He for She' session led by ARDD and in partnership with UN Women. The sessions engage men like Al-Shibli on the valuable contribution they have in reducing gender-based violence and building gender-equal communities. "I learned through the sessions that it is important to work together as a community and ensure women are involved," Al-Shibli affirmed. "In setting up this initiative, the women and girls feel empowered to learn and even sell the items that they make." 


At Za'atari, Ismail Al-Waked, 60, was also inspired to empower women through the sessions he attended. Al-Waked's initiative was closer to home, he realized the importance of empowering his nineteen-year-old daughter to ensure she could be financially independent and access equal opportunities. "By empowering my daughter, I will ensure that she has a brighter future where she can rely on herself."


Al-Waked shared his passion for reducing oil waste in the camp with his daughter, and the skill for turning oil into soap. "She mastered the skill very quickly, and even developed the skill further to make soaps with beautiful scents," explains Al-Waked. "The project has allowed her to support herself and her family. She is selling the products to her neighbors, friends, and within the local market."


Al-Shibli and Al-Waked's stories demonstrate the continuous efforts to engage men and boys in the advancement of women's empowerment in their communities. ARDD, in partnership with UN Women, runs the 'He for She' sessions in Azraq and Za'atari refugee camps, engaging over 200 men and boys on their role in contributing to finding solutions that address GBV in the camps and contribute to creating an environment free from violence against women. The initiative is generously supported by the European Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis (Madad) and the Governments of France and Japan.