Conference Subject: Women’s economical Empowerment The conference was
held in Saad Abdullah Hall, Erbil on 23/7/2011 and was organized by “International Human Rights Law Institute”/COLLEGE OF LAW DEPAUL NIVERSITY. 100 law students from different provinces of Iraq participated in this special event. The aim of the conference was to encourage young Iraqi women to become more active members of the society and particularly in the job market and how a change like that can support democracy and human rights through enhancing women’s economical empowerment and thereby give them better chances to obtain their rights. The third aim was to fighting gender inequality, by empowering women economically and drawing their attention to the opportunities in private sector.
Women Empowerment Organization WEO took an active part in the conference. Mrs. Suzan Aref, the director of the WEO, gave a very interesting presentation about “Gender” and “Leadership”. Her presentation attracted most of the Iraqi women’s attention as it was full of important information and detail that could have a crucial impact on their daily life. Concerning Gender issue Mrs. Suzan, argued that there is no particular type of job that is designed for male and not female, both sexes have the same rational level and should practice the same sorts of jobs. She also encouraged women to move away from the domestic arena, and demand equal rights to men. To achieve this aim the Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) and government must help the women in obtaining higher education, providing job training, equal employment opportunities, and legal advice to women. Consequently, the law and culture will reduce the level of discrimination against women in the private and public arena.
Subsequently, Salar Delaware the WEO provided the participant the opportunity to enhance their capacity and skill by training them on how to create a CV and enroll in a job placement program in this competitive market.
The second day of the conference coincided with 24/7/2011; Mrs. Suzan started her lecture with the issues that women face in our society. Woman is not perceived as individuals but as members of the family, whose rights and obligations are defined in
relation to male relatives, leaders, and protectors of women. She also pointed out that in our society women’s role is only limited to becoming mothers and wives rather than women as citizens to enjoy their rights like men. They encouraged young women participants to start their own business, in the private sector. Mrs. Suzan Aref told the women to stand up for their rights, how to take control over their lives and how to plan a successful life, in order to avoid domestic violence and at the same time economically become independent. Most of the participant agreed with Mrs. Suzan’s views and encouraged her to participate in the future events. However, some of the male participant disagreed to what she said.
The second part of the conference was presented by Mr. Dastan Qader the SBDC director of WEO. He was focusing on telling the women how they can become skillful and successful business women.
To summarize; in fact women in our society suffers from male domination in the family and unequal opportunity in all areas including the job sector. Especially financial inequality makes the women dependent on her husband which increases the likelihood that her and children will suffer. The Kurdish society is in need of information campaigns that can help induce change, a change that will combat discrimination and inequality.
WEO hopes to play a crucial role by encouraging the female participant to become more independent economically. Women in our society should become more confident in order to face the challenges that they are going to face in their lives. The government must also take on an important role in enhancing women opportunities. The government should amongst other initiatives encourage women to get involved in the development project that empower them e.g. by starting their own business.
Women in Iraq are Running Their Own Businesses and Giving Employment Opportunities to Men.
Marwa Ehsan Raheef was a trainee at the Women’s Empowerment Organization. She is 24 years old, a mother of two children, a wife, and a business owner who manages to run her household successfully.
Ms. Marwa says: "When we moved from Baghdad to Erbil (because of the circumstances that we faced) I started looking for an opportunity to work but I never thought of starting my own business and competing with other larger businesses in Erbil." After seeing the advertisement on television about the training sessions which were being held by the organization, (funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development) I decided to take advantage of training opportunity.”
Marwa started thinking about opening a project of her own instead of working for someone, but she was faced with some stumbling blocks i.e. what kind of project would suit her, how will she manage and funding the project.
After receiving the loan training "How to Start a Business" training course from the Women Empowerment Organization. They started the business review panel; she wrote her business plan and submitted it for a loan of five thousand dollars. She was awarded the amount requested and opened up a shop selling stationery and offering photocopying services.
After the opening of the stationary store under the name "Newroz" (which means "a new day in Kurdish language" she said: "I have gained experience which has helped me write a business plan, showed me basic business practices which enabled me to maximize profits and basic planning techniques" She has opened her stationary shop in a commercial area in Erbil/ Briety near the Iraqi ID, school, dormitories for universities surrounded by a lot of houses.
Ms. Marwa has included her husband in her stationary business. As a result she was able to expand her business by adding commercial printers to her store. She is now able to offer her services to the directorate of Iraqi ID who is requesting the reproduction of many documents. The expansion has proven to be successful and is evident by the longer hours the couple spends at their shop until 11 pm.
"I am now managing my own work successfully and my husband supports me in that so we are happy in this achievement. After years of waiting we are now having what it feeding us and makes us feel stable." Marwa said.