PCPM helps women in Northern Iraq

The Polish Center for International Aid has a project in the north of Iraq, which consists of the professional activation of women. The new jobs created could significantly improve the living conditions of Iraqis and reduce their need to migrate to Europe.

In Iraq, the so-called Islamic State caused many Iraqis to leave their homes and seek refuge in other parts of the country. PCPM helps municipalities to respond as effectively as possible to the wishes of residents. In the Sheihan district (Iraqi Kurdistan), the organization is running a project for the professional activation of women.

“Due to the socio-cultural norms prevailing in federal Iraq or Iraqi Kurdistan, local women have a much more difficult path to take their own professional initiative and achieve financial independence” – said PCPM project manager Dorota Woroniecka. She noted that they had received support from the local government, although there were also offices where you felt a slight resistance – in these cultural circles there are usually men in the authorities. The same goes for family matters – a woman must have her husband’s permission to take these kinds of actions. PCPM received support from the Supreme Women’s Council of the KRI government (Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan Region) and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Council and other partners in the project. This made it easier to navigate the local community and administration.

“During the final approval of the projects that would receive funding, we paid special attention to individual interviews with the applicants. We wanted to check whether a particular idea is actually behind + a particular woman, or whether it is only acting on behalf of her husband, cousin or brother who would be the ultimate beneficiary of the aid “- said Woroniecka.

The projects submitted are dominated by the services: beauty salons, hairdressing salons, accounting, gardening, production of sweets and pastries, clothing stores. When selecting projects to receive funding, PCPM paid attention to the profiles of these applications in order to avoid the sudden opening of 5 cosmetic factories in this small town, as it would be economically irrational.

The last group of co-financed projects was selected in early February and March. “We are currently at the stage of obtaining the final approval from Brussels for the possibility to co-finance movable goods in these projects as well, such as clothing, mannequins, baking materials, cosmetics. for a deviation from this rule. The decision has to be made in June” – said Woroniecka of PCPM.

A total of 130 women from Sheihan have applied for the project. A committee composed of PCPM, local authorities and the High Council of Women established the criteria on the basis of which the best 44 project proposals were selected. Preference was given to women in difficult financial situations, single parents and a profile of unique amenities that were lacking in the city. 44 women attended a 10-day training course in the basics of entrepreneurship (accounting, business plan creation, law, completing formal job applications). After the training, they had to draw up their business plan. In the end, 30 projects were put on the table, 18 of which were approved by 19 women (in one case – 2 women). Jezydki makes up a significant portion of the beneficiaries, and there are also many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Each idea will be awarded $3,000 and the entire project will be allocated $65,000. These funds can be used to purchase durable equipment for a newly established company: furniture, machinery and equipment.

“Until 2003, there were no women in Sheihan involved in entrepreneurship or business, even in a very basic form. Since 2003, significant progress has been made in the social perception of the role of women, NGOs such as PCPM have emerged to encourage and The priority was to help women in a difficult economic situation, without work, often living only on the material help of their relatives “- said Khalid Nermo Zedo, president of the Sheihan commune.

He notes that the PCPM project is aimed at enterprising women. With some you can develop further, with others you can take the first step in running your own business.

“These are very important initiatives, not just for the women themselves, but for our entire community. Today, no one is surprised by a woman who runs her own business, employs employees, is independent in business and in life” – he added ready.

Thanks to EU funds, the Polish Center for International Aid supports local authorities, including investments in water infrastructure, develop the capacity to effectively manage territorial units and spatial planning, and stimulate local economic development (e.g. through external investment attract, encourage small businesses or create jobs). Due to insufficient infrastructural development and problems in these areas of life, many Iraqis choose illegal, dangerous migration to Europe, including through Belarus.

Sheihan District is located in Dohuk Province, which is largely under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Sheikhan is located in the disputed areas between the KRG and federal Iraq, in fact most of the district is under the control of the KRG and only one sub-district (Zelikan) is under the control of the Iraqi federal government. It is one of the areas in northern Iraq with the largest influx of displaced persons, ie Iraqis escaping through the so-called Islamic State. As a result of the hostilities, the population of Sheihan District has increased by about 50 percent in four years. (DAD)

Author: Marta Stańczyk

mas / okay /

Leave a Comment