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18/09/2017 - 07:00hs
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Empowering Refugees helped 50 women this year

At the end of its second edition, the project coordinated by UN agencies helped to employ 21 women in associated companies and offered advice to entrepreneurs.



São Paulo – The lives of fifty refugee women living in Brazil that took part in the second phase of the project Empowering Refugees changed for the better this year. Be it through the hiring by a private company or by receiving entrepreneurship advise, these women carved their space in society and even within their household thanks to the program coordinated by UN Global Compact Network Brazil and organized jointly by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and by UN Women.

The second phase ended in August and even yielded a mini-documentary named Restarts. Adding up the first and second phases, eighty women were helped and 21 hired by different company that associated themselves to the Empowering Refugees.

“In this second phase, we had the participation of ten companies,” says Maria Beatriz Nogueira, head of the UNHCR office in São Paulo. “Besides the mini-documentary, the commitment by these companies allowed the creation of a Guidebook for the Hiring of Refugees, where frequently asked questions are answered regarding documentation, opening accounts in the bank, among others.”

Reproduction/Facebook

Syrian Razan Suliman, one of the women empowered by the project

According to Nogueira, in this second edition three Arab refugees were helped. One of them is Syrian Razan Suliman, one of the subjects of the documentary. She opened a business cooking Arab food to order and, selected for the project, received advise by employees of Facebook itself, one of the associated companies, to help with the promotion of her store and in how to manage her business.

“For six weeks, every Tuesday, Razan came here in our office to understand a little more on how to use it [Facebook],” says Camila Fusco in the documentary, the company’s director of entrepreneurship. The results can be seen at the Facebook page of Razan Comida Árabe, which has over 7,000 likes.

Another Syrian to take part in the project was Salsabil, also owner of an Arab food business. There’s another one that was selected for the Young Apprentice Project in one of the companies associated with the project. Besides Facebook, Carrefour, EMDOC, Lojas Renner and Sodexo, among others, were affiliated with the Empowering Refugees.

“The expectation is for us to double the number of companies participating in the next edition of the project,” says Nogueira, who’s already working in the public call of the third phase. “We should launch it [the public call] in November,” she predicts.

She says that in the launching of the documentary, at the end of last month, representatives of five other companies showed up. “This is already a sign of interest,” she assesses, adding that she also expects to double the number of refugees participating.

Besides the tangible results, the head of the UNHCR office highlights the effects that the project has in the refugees’ own households, which spread out to society. “There was a case of a refugee that came to her husband and said: ‘Look, here in Brazil there are laws to protect women, so you cannot hit me’. These declarations echo to other refugees and spread out to society. These are things we can’t measure in numbers,” she says.

Razan herself is an example: today her business is the main source of income for the family and she has her husband as her main associate. The mini-documentary Restarts, which tells the stories of the Syrian and other refugees selected by the project, has 23 minutes and is available at YouTube.

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani

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