Skip to main content

UN-ESCWA and Italy partner to support empowerment of women refugees from Syria

Beirut , Lebanon

3rd August, 2018, Beirut — In a signing ceremony today between the Ambassador of Italy, Massimo Marotti, and the UN Under Secretary General, and ESCWA Executive Secretary, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, a new project was launched that will empower women refugees from Syria and vulnerable women and girls in host communities to play an active role in improving their lives and advocating for their rights.
This new partnership between the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN-ESCWA), the Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) seeks to increase the participation of women in peace-building processes so they can make important contributions in their communities. The Government of Italy committed to a contribution of 6 million Euros to the overall initiative, including 200.000 Euros disbursed in favor of projects implemented by ESCWA, beginning in August 2018 through September 2020.
During the next two years, the project will build the capacity of women leaders among refugees from Syria and women representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. It will be aimed at improving the livelihoods of women, both refugees and nationals of host countries, with a specific focus on improving access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, the prevention of gender-based violence, and the socio-economic empowerment of women, through activities oriented to income generation.
The project will train women leaders to raise awareness among their communities about international and national frameworks governing women’s rights, peace and security, and to identify immediate and post-conflict recovery needs. It will also support them in determining ways of working with host communities and how to invest in their resilience.
In addition, the project will offer guidance to women leaders on producing advocacy materials that will be conveyed through UN-ESCWA’s existing networks to host country institutions in charge of advancing the empowerment of women and girls, as well as through key stakeholders involved in deliberations regarding peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery in Syria.
“The agreement we sign today confirms the Italian commitment to the welfare of both the Syrian refugees, and the host communities, who continue to undertake an unprecedented effort that we will continue to commend and support, with a particular focus to the most vulnerable groups, as women and girls”, Ambassador Marotti declared.
As a Regional Commission serving the Arab region, UN-ESCWA is uniquely placed to successfully implement such a project thanks to its history and proven track record of promoting the adaptation and adoption of international conventions related to women’s empowerment in the region.
“Women and girls from Syria are among the most vulnerable refugees and many who have resorted to refuge in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt are head of households, having either lost their husbands in the conflict or left them behind to protect their family property,” said Mohamed Ali Alhakim, the Executive Secretary of UN-ESCWA. “At the same time, women are not sufficiently involved in the design of relief initiatives targeting Syrian refugees and lack awareness of the rights they have as refugees as well as the potential roles they could play in the peace process and post-conflict recovery in Syria,” he added, highlighting the urgent need for this life-changing capacity building initiative.


ESCWA is one of the five UN regional commissions. It is part of the UN Secretariat, and works under the supervision of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It provides a framework for the formulation and harmonization of sectoral policies for member countries; a platform for congress and coordination; a home for expertise and knowledge, and an information observatory. It aims at supporting economic and social cooperation between the region’s countries and promoting development process in order to achieve regional integration. It helps to implement global policy frameworks, notably the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), hand in hand with its 18 member States.
The 18 member countries of ESCWA are: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, The Sudan, The Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, The United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
AICS - the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development
AICS - the Italian Agency for Cooperation and Development - is one of key innovations established by the Italian law on international cooperation (Law No. 125/2014), and began operating in January 2016.
Law 125 indicates the goals of cooperation as including the eradication of poverty, the reduction of inequalities, the protection of civil rights and personal dignity – including gender equality and equal opportunity – as well as the prevention of conflict and support for peace processes.
The commitment of the Italian Cooperation in Lebanon for on-going and approved projects is around 200 million Euro through soft loans and grants.


For more information, please contact
UN-ESCWA: Ms. Mehrinaz Elawady; E:; T: +961 1 978 650
                     Mr. Nabil Abu-Dargham; E:; T: +961-70-993-144
AICS: Ms. Donatella Procesi; E:; T: +961 5 -451 406