Agadez, Niger – In the heart of Agadez, a transformative movement is taking root for women from host and migrant communities. The Foyer Féminin Tchimakrassan (Tchimakrassan Women’s Centre), a modern construction amidst the traditional banco buildings, is a beacon of hope and opportunity.

The Foyer is a hub for women from all walks of life in Agadez, a space uniquely theirs, managed by women themselves – the first of its kind in the city. Within its walls, women don't just gather; they support, encourage, inspire, and learn from each other. From tailoring to hairstyling, from food transformation to batik dyeing, an array of diverse activities provides opportunities for women to earn a livelihood, acquire new skills, and foster bonds within the community, whether host or migrant.

Atina Hamma in the dyeing workshop with other trainees. Photo: IOM 2024

Atina Hamma, once confined by limited prospects, now flourishes with newfound purpose. "I learned the techniques of batik dyeing in this Foyer," she says. "It allows me to not stay at home doing nothing, to benefit from a training and support myself when I start my business as a dyer and sell clothes."

Entrance to the Foyer Féminin Tchimakrassan in the city of Agadez. Photo: IOM 2024

Since its inauguration in 2023, the Foyer is entirely run by women. Today, these women autonomously manage operational expenses, including electricity and water, and streamline administrative processes for enrolling women from Agadez and expanding the Foyer’s activities.

Offering ten different training programmes, the area significantly contributes to the empowerment of women from both migrant and host community alike and lays the groundwork for social cohesion.

Within the centre, some women offer hairstyling and makeup services. Photo: IOM 2024

“This place provides an ideal setting for women to develop their skills and strengthen their capacities, therefore creating a framework for social cohesion and sustainable development for these women," says Laria Issaka, a member of the centre's management committee.

With its strategic positioning along major migratory crossroads in northern Niger, Agadez accommodates thousands of Sub-Saharan Africans en route to or returning from North Africa. These migration dynamics lead to pressure on already limited resources, and consequently to heightened tensions within local communities. Additionally, cultural differences can be a source of conflict between host communities and migrants.

The Foyer Féminin also acts as a bridge between host and migrant communities, fostering dialogue and an environment conducive to peaceful coexistence.

Sewing by women learning tailoring at the Foyer Féminin. Photo: IOM 2024

“We used to keep our distance from migrants, looking at them with suspicion from a distance. But since the establishment of this foyer, we have bonded with the migrant women. We have realized that we share similar thoughts and ideas. It has brought us stability, both socially and economically,” says Hadjia Mamadou, reflecting on the change.

Women weaving baskets and bags for sale at the Foyer Féminin. Photo: IOM 2024

Yvonne Azacin, a Nigerian woman who recently started attending the centre, echoes this sentiment. "Despite our cultural differences, we bond and understand each other. We have formed strong relationships. If there is ever a need, they always reach out to me."

"Within the walls of this feminine premise, women feel empowered and secure, finding strength in a space managed by and for women. It is more than just a building; it is a safe space that nurtures independence and social cohesion," says Idrissa Somparé, IOM Niger Senior Programme Coordinator.

"The Foyer also plays a pivotal role in their economic and social empowerment while fostering unity and understanding among migrant and host communities," he adds.

Products made by the women of the Foyer Féminin. Photo: IOM 2024


Today, the Foyer Féminin Tchimakrassan stands tall as a symbol of hope and paints a collective narrative of empowerment and a brighter future for women in Agadez.

The Foyer Féminin Tchimakrassan was constructed with funding support of the European Union via IOM’s Community Stabilization Programme. The Community Stabilization Programme aims to prevent conflicts, enhance social cohesion between host communities and migrants, and support vulnerable groups, particularly women and youth, in rebuilding their livelihoods amidst shifting migration patterns.

Written by Aïssatou Sy, Public Information Officer at IOM Niger.

SDG 5 - Gender Equality