On Monday, 1st June the Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) held a well attended Women’s Group discussion entitled ‘Women in Business: Current Challenges and Future Perspectives‘ with Ms Samar Thamer Al Mafraji, Managing Director, AMS Iraq chairing the session.

Speakers included:

  • Ms Caroline McGarr, Managing Director, Thinkbank;
  • Mrs Faten Issa Alsarraf, Managing Director, Final Fix Interiors LLC;
  • Mrs Samar Rassam-Whitticombe, Director, Somer Industrial Projects; and,
  • Ms Paulina Argudin, Senior Analyst, G4S Risk Consulting.

The discussion covered a wide range topics from personnel training in Iraq, gender equality issues to personal experiences while working in large corporations.

Finally a very insightful survey on Iraqi consumer habits and how these differ between men and women was presented at the meeting.

For more information please contact agne.abramauskaite@webuildiraq.org

(Source: IBBC)

UN in Iraq raises the alarm: Time to endorse the anti-domestic violence law

The UN in Iraq urges the Iraqi Parliament to speed up the endorsement of the Anti-Domestic Violence Law amid alarming reports of a rise in gender-based and domestic violence cases perpetrated across the country, especially with increased household tensions as a result of the confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) offices in Iraq express their concern at the rising number in domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last week, multiple reports emerged of the rape of a woman with special needs, spousal abuse, immolation and self-immolation as well as self-inflicted injuries due to spousal abuse, sexual harassment of minors, and suicide due to domestic abuse among other crimes. Such crimes raise the alarm for the urgency to endorse the Anti-Domestic Violence Law in Iraq.

The UN in Iraq calls upon authorities to ensure that the judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers, invest more in hotline and online services, support the role of civil society organisations, keep shelter doors open for women fleeing abuse and punish perpetrators of any gender-based violence.

As United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres said:

“Many women under lockdown for COVID-19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes. Today I appeal for peace in homes around the world. I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.”

We reiterate the Secretary General’s call and ask the authorities in Iraq to prioritise the protection of women and children as part of their COVID-19 response.

The adoption of a law on Domestic Violence will help to ensure that perpetrators of gender-based violence in Iraq, such as those who carried out the heinous incidents seen in recent past, are held accountable.

Violence against women and girls is a crime and should not go unpunished. The women and girls of Iraq deserve better.

UNFPA Representative in Iraq, Dr Oluremi Sogunro

OHCHR Representative in Iraq, Danielle Bell

UNICEF Representative in Iraq, Hamida Ramadhani Lasseko

UN Women Representative in Iraq, Dina Zorba

(Source: UNFPA)

UN in Iraq raises the alarm: Time to endorse the anti-domestic violence law

The UN in Iraq urges the Iraqi Parliament to speed up the endorsement of the Anti-Domestic Violence Law amid alarming reports of a rise in gender-based and domestic violence cases perpetrated across the country, especially with increased household tensions as a result of the confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) offices in Iraq express their concern at the rising number in domestic violence cases during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last week, multiple reports emerged of the rape of a woman with special needs, spousal abuse, immolation and self-immolation as well as self-inflicted injuries due to spousal abuse, sexual harassment of minors, and suicide due to domestic abuse among other crimes. Such crimes raise the alarm for the urgency to endorse the Anti-Domestic Violence Law in Iraq.

The UN in Iraq calls upon authorities to ensure that the judicial systems continue to prosecute abusers, invest more in hotline and online services, support the role of civil society organisations, keep shelter doors open for women fleeing abuse and punish perpetrators of any gender-based violence.

As United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres said:

“Many women under lockdown for COVID-19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes. Today I appeal for peace in homes around the world. I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.”

We reiterate the Secretary General’s call and ask the authorities in Iraq to prioritise the protection of women and children as part of their COVID-19 response.

The adoption of a law on Domestic Violence will help to ensure that perpetrators of gender-based violence in Iraq, such as those who carried out the heinous incidents seen in recent past, are held accountable.

Violence against women and girls is a crime and should not go unpunished. The women and girls of Iraq deserve better.

UNFPA Representative in Iraq, Dr Oluremi Sogunro

OHCHR Representative in Iraq, Danielle Bell

UNICEF Representative in Iraq, Hamida Ramadhani Lasseko

UN Women Representative in Iraq, Dina Zorba

(Source: UNFPA)

By Zahra Ali for Jadaliyya. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Since October 2019, Iraq is experiencing a turning point in its history with popular mobilizations demanding radical change.

The Iraqi revolution is a societal uprising involving a wide spectrum of society including the dispossessed, the marginalized, the ones deprived of resources and power.

Women’s massive participation from young female students to older women has turned this uprising to a people’s revolution.

While remarkable, this participation is not surprising, it only makes visible deep societal realities and transformations that have found their space of expression in the Iraqi streets and squares of protest.

Click here to read the full story.

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

It can be hard for young Iraqi graduates to get a job – in Iraq’s oil-dependent, rentier economy, the government still provides most of the employment and as the population grows, there simply are not enough jobs to go around. It’s one of the main reasons for current anti-government protests.

One young Baghdad woman, Duha Mustafa Fadel, decided to forge her own path after graduation. She now has her own business, making natural soap and skin care products locally. She sells soap made with fennel, lemon, coffee, active coal, strawberry, honey and Moroccan clay, among other varieties, via Facebook and at drugstores and beauty clinics around the country.

She told NIQASH how she got started, where she hopes to go and why there is hope for young Iraqis in the private sector.

NIQASH: How did all this begin for you?

Duha Mustafa Fadel: After I graduated, coming first in my class, I didn’t want to wait around for the government  to offer me a job, as so many other people do. I worked for another company for a while and managed to save some money. Then I travelled to India with my husband – he was studying there – where I was introduced to all kinds of natural oils and where I joined a training on the manufacture of natural products.

Upon my return to Iraq, I got started. I opened a small workshop in my own home and created two Facebook pages to market my products. One of the first people to contact me was a woman from Diwaniyah. She said she was interested in the products but couldn’t afford to pay to get them from Baghdad to Diwaniyah and asked if there was any chance I would open outlets in other parts of Iraq. So that’s what I did.

NIQASH: What was the budget for your project?

Fadel: Around US$3,400. That was what I could afford and I used the money to buy raw materials and workshop supplies.

NIQASH: When you first started work, what were some of your biggest challenges?

Fadel: Basically trying to build trust that it was a locally made product and that it was good. Shop owners that I tried to stock would ask me whether it was really made in Iraq, or if it was imported. When I told them it was made in Iraq, they were often reluctant. However when they did try it, they liked it a lot and would always order more.

NIQASH: Did you do any research on the market or whether Iraqis even wanted something like this before you began?

Fadel: Yes, I tried to do a feasibility study and when it comes to the tastes of customers, I started with what I liked first, and what people close to me liked. Then eventually, as the business grew, I began to get more insights into what customers wanted  and I built my knowledge of the market that way.

NIQASH: What sort of plans do you have for the future growth of your business?

Fadel: I’d really like to open a proper factory in Iraqi Kurdistan to make soap and skin care products and then market them in Arab countries, and also internationally. I lived in Iraqi Kurdistan for two years and I have good contacts there. The conditions for opening a factory are easier up north too.

NIQASH: A lot of other Iraqis would be looking at your success with admiration and they might possibly also want to ask you for a job. Where do you find your employees?

Fadel: At first, a friend was helping me and as the business grew, I began to hire young female graduates. As our activities continue and grow, the number of staff should also increase. I’ve also been very lucky in that my husband and parents support my work unconditionally.

NIQASH: What advice would you give to other Iraqi women who might be thinking about starting their own businesses? 

Fadel: I would advise them not to hesitate. I would advise them to work hard and to unleash their talents and creativity. The beginning is always hard but over time, things get easier and your business will grow, especially if you have done good advance planning and research. Women who become financially independent can be a source of pride for their families and, of course, for themselves too.

The Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) has contributed CAD 20 million ($15 million) in support of UNFPA’s humanitarian response focusing on life-saving assistance aimed at alleviating the suffering of women and girls across Iraq.

The three-year contribution will support UNFPA works in providing emergency obstetric care, and sexual and reproductive health services, in ensuring protection from and responding to gender-based violence and in providing health services, supplies and medication, dignity and reproductive health kits to women and girls affected by the crisis in Iraq.

Dr Oluremi Sogunro, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, thanked DFAT for their trust, saying:

“We are grateful for Canada’s generosity. The needs of women and adolescent girls, especially in displacement camps, remain acute. With the new funding from Canada, UNFPA will expand its interventions aiming at meeting the reproductive health needs of women and girls as well as preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development has been a steady partner to UNFPA humanitarian intervention since 2015. With the current contribution, the total amount of CAD 54.9 million dedicated to UNFPA’s humanitarian initiatives in the field.

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

A recently established tote bag factory has reportedly created jobs for 25 women in the Kurdistan Region’s Halabja.

According to Rudaw, the initiative aims to promote alternatives to plastic, and is part of the “Green City Halabja” campaign, run by the NWE NGO and partially funded by the German Consulate and WADI organization.

Click here to read the full story.

(Source: Rudaw)

“We had to run quickly: they were coming in at us. We could hear them from far. My whole life crumbled that same moment. I froze but I could hear my sister screaming: “move or they will kill you, or worse take you,” said Minar from Qamishli, in Syria, recollecting the moment she and her family had to flee their home in Syria and seek refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

To protect girls like Minar and ensure that no woman suffers or dies from gender-based violence in Iraq, the Government of Norway contributed to NOK 17 million (US$ 1,872,452 million) to UNFPA interventions aiming at mitigating, preventing and responding to gender-based violence in humanitarian crisis.

This contribution is part of the Government of Norway’s agreement to provide funding against the appeals in different countries including Iraq for a total amount of (approximately US$ 12,344,685 million) NOK 111.5 Million and (approximately US$ 2,7 million) NOK 25 million to the Humanitarian Thematic Fund. Norway is the top donor to UNFPA core resources in 2019.

In Iraq, UNFPA will utilise the funding to build the capacity of GBV actors, to prevent and respond to GBV through quality services provision targeting vulnerable survivors, including refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities. Norway’s contribution will also support UNFPA’s efforts to strengthen policies and the legal framework on gender-based violence, as well as to change behaviours towards survivors of GBV.

“Protection against sexual and gender based violence and empowerment of women and girls is a top priority in Norway’s humanitarian efforts. UNFPA is a trusted partner in this work”, says Tone Allers, the Norwegian Ambassador to Jordan and Iraq.

On his end, Dr Oluremi Sogunro, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, thanks the Government of Norway, for their continuous support to the Fund’s GBV programmes. “Norway has been a steady partner to UNFPA throughout the humanitarian crises that hit Iraq. I thank the Government of Norway for leaving no woman and girl behind by renewing its trust in our gender-based violence programmes. Together, we will ensure that women and girls across Iraq are protected and are given the opportunity to thrive.”

(Source: UN)

By Sundus Abbas, SDGs project Manager.

The importance of human development in Iraq stems from the damage Iraqis underwent as a result of decades of despotism, war and different forms of violence and insecurity.

Despite all that, Iraq’s strongest asset and real wealth remains the young population that can face all forms of the current and future challenges.

As one of the countries that has the largest young population groups in the world “50% of the population are under 19 years old”, this fact has put Iraq under pressure on already scarce economic resources, including food, water, urban infrastructure and public services.

It is expected that 5 to7 million additional job opportunities will be needed according to the Iraqi Ministry of Planning. This number may be higher if labor force participation rates increase, especially among women.

Click here to read the full story.

(Source: UNDP)

By John Lee.

Fair competition is needed to economically empower women in the Arab world

Female labor force participation levels in Arab countries are the lowest in the world, despite the rising educational attainment of women reaching working age, according to an article from the Middle East Institute.

Rabah Arezki, Ferid Belhaj argue that young women across the Arab world exceed the education levels of young men, who are worrisomely falling behind.

Remedying the underrepresentation of Arab women in the labor force and reviving the educational motivation of young men are both social and economic imperatives, they say.

More here.

(Source: Middle East Institute)