Dar Zeytuna Lebanon, Empowering Syrian Refugee Women in Lebanon, is a project funded by The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and implemented by Mandat International.

The project builds on a previous UNDEF-funded project in Lebanon (UDF-15-657-LEB), during which Mandat International worked with Syrian women refugees in Beirut to give them opportunities to organize, engage and support other refugees while preparing for the future, whether in Lebanon or in Syria. During that previous “Zeytuna” project, these women participated in a series of training courses, to acquire the knowledge and develop the skills needed to more effectively address social, political and economic barriers. They then developed their own project ideas. The present “Dar Zeytuna” project (UDF-18-816-RAS) intends to capitalize on the capacity built among 55 Syrian refugee women and 15 Lebanese women from the hosting community. A “Centre” will be established in Beirut to provide a common area and shared resources that will enable 70 participants to implement projects that are based on ideas and concepts they developed under the previous UNDEF project.

In the path to impact, project activities are expected to lead to strengthened autonomy and integration of Syrian women refugees in Lebanon through (a) further training, (b) the implementation of projects they designed themselves, and (c) public visibility combined with knowledge sharing and exchange to inspire other women living in the hosting community. Mandat International will also draw on its experience from the successful execution of a similar, UNDEF-funded, strategic approach which supported Syrian women refugees in Turkey. The project’s strategy in the long-term is therefore expected to increase the women’s opportunity to fully participate in the democratic, economic and reconstruction processes during the post-conflict period.

By creating a unique Centre for the women to implement the projects they previously designed in the Zeytuna Project (UDF-15-657-LEB), Dar Zeytuna will stimulate motivation and provide in an efficient way the support needed to launch these projects. The aim is to harness the potential of Syrian women who are living in difficult financial circumstances. Running their own projects will allow them to discover and use their potential with which they are endowed and which they could use to enhance their livelihoods and become independent citizens in Lebanon. The participating women will implement projects with public visibility and thus inspire other women, an expected multiplier and leverage effect with subsequent sustainability after the project end in two years.

In the long run, the scope of the project is to ensure an active role of women in the reconstruction of Syrian society. It will rely among others on the dissemination of universal standards from the UN system and individual capacity building to make sure that women’s rights and voice become an inherent part of Syrian public life and that the problems that are specific to women and/or the violation of other rights are taken into consideration.

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