We dreamed of and launched KIMIM Vocational Training and Employment Support Center for Women to contribute to women's employment in the Fatih district of Istanbul. Since its foundation in 1988, Etiler Soroptimist Club implemented many projects for the economic empowerment of women. One of these successful long-term projects, Weaving Lives has been conducted since 2005 in a disadvantaged region of Mardin to increase low rates of women’s labor force participation. However, since Mardin is very far from Istanbul and our club members wanted to engage more actively and intensely in our projects, we decided to launch a similar project in Istanbul to fulfill our members’ desire to serve. We started by organizing a short project management course. Fortunately, at the end of this program, the Istanbul Development Agency announced a Grant Program of Financial Support for women's employment. So, we took our chance and found ourselves in the project writing phase.
SUCCESS WITH THE PROJECT
Our project targeted 18-40 years old women who wanted but couldn’t work before due to lack of required skills and education. The aim is to empower women by creating employment opportunities they can benefit in a short period of time. In order to accomplish this goal, we created three vocational training programs which ensure direct and secure job placement for the trainees. The main problem was that Fatih is one of the districts with the lowest rate of women’s employment in Istanbul.
Gender equality awareness seminars were also held for all attendees and their family members. The performance of employed trainees were monitored, and reinforcement studies were done upon necessity. They also had two coaching sessions to tackle issues about work and family life. During the project, the following activities were carried out: 1) Building the Project Team, 2) Field Research, 3) Vocational Trainings, 4) Internship, 5) Job Placement, 6) Raising Awareness (Gender Equality Awareness seminars, monitoring and coaching, balancing work and family life sessions) 7) Reporting.
Moreover, we tried to raise gender equality awareness not only at the course attendees but also their families who had never heard of the concept itself before.
KIMIM Vocational Training and Employment Support Center for Women conducted three different short-term vocational training programs together with an expert organization, i.e. USLA International Hospitality Academy. Three departments, namely Housekeeping, Stewarding and F&B Service, were selected in accordance with the needs of the job market in the hospitality sector of Istanbul. Within the scope of the project, a full-time Employment Support Specialist was hired to find suitable job openings, arrange interviews, determine special needs of attendees, prepare CVs, and organize the paper work. Thus, after the successful completion of the courses which lasted 90 to 120 hours, trainees acquired enough skills to place them in their first jobs ever.
At the end of the project, despite serious obstacles, we reached hundreds of women registered 67 applicants for Housekeeping, Stewarding or F&B Service Training programs; 53 women attended, 43 of them earned certification, and we have secured 25 different jobs to 20 women. It was the first work experience for 15 of our participants.
The second year trainings of KIMIM project were provided by famous television broadcaster Meltem Açıkel in the fields of bag, accessory, souvenir-making from 15 March to 26 April 2017. 15 women enrolled to the training where 10 women completed the trainings successfully. At the end of second year trainings, a handmade bag atelier was founded by 5 successful trainees under the supervision of Meltem Açıkel. The atelier hosts hundreads of beautiful bags and continues to produce in Balat Cultural House.
For the third year trainings of KIMIM project, the workshops of “the essentials of table mat, runner and apron-making” was taught by Zeynep Gencolu, “blanket-making” by Okka Group, “pillow-making” by Meltem Açıkel, “Amigurumi” by Bibak Hobievi as home textile products. Despite the completion of the trainings where many products were manufactured, especially handmade pillows and blankets, the team continues to produce in order to achieve their goal to prepare a collection in the new season.