Siding with Iraqi women

 

January 27, 2014

iraqJUSTICE AND PEACE – Manos Unidas, association of the Catholic Church in Spain for support, promotion and development of Third World countries, devotes its project for the month of January, the last one of the campaign “No justice without equality”, to its commitment in the Ninive Plane, Iraq, in cooperation with the organization “Etana”, which thanks to support from Manos Unidas seeks to give women the opportunities they had been denied by poverty, mafia, religious persecution and male chauvinist societies. The Ninive Plane is an area located in the northeast area of the city of Mosul, capital of the province of Ninive, where coexist various religions and where a high percentage of the overall population is neither Arab nor Muslim, a reason why, with the passing of the years, the area underwent serious cuts to services, and infrastructures are insufficient.

 
Marginalized women. In Iraq, owing to conditions of poverty, violence and discrimination, women are those in the worst situation. Their role in a markedly male chauvinistic society is limited to the care of children and of the household. Poor levels of education (most women are almost completely illiterate) are reflected in child upbringing: differences between boys and girls, minor education opportunities for girls, increasing child labour, and early marriage for young girls”.Despite the fact that article 14 of the Constitution mentions equality we are told by Etana that in practical terms things are different” made known Manos Unidas”.For example, women receive half as much the dowry of a man”. Indeed, men don’t believe in gender equality because “if women were equal to them, men would have too much to loose”. That’s why women become like “prisoners inside the household: illiterate, marginalized and poor”.
 
A change in mentality. To change this situation the Etana organization, actively involved in projects in various areas in the region since 2006, proposed to Manos Unidas to launch a training program for women with the purpose of developing their working skills, thereby helping them cope with their needs and step up their role in society (in the field of information technology, first assistance or body care). Furthermore, the two associations are involved in an environment-friendly and recycling programme. With the passing of time, many men expressed the wish to learn more about the activities and have been involved in the conferences”.And they are bound to grow in numbers – Etana underlined-, although it’s hard to change such a deeply-rooted mentality”.
 
The story of Nisreen. The project helps many women bring about a positive change in their lives, as in the case ofNisreen Khalid Dawood, a widow with two children, and a fugitive”.I was born in the city of Telesquf in 1986 – the woman said -. After I got married I moved to Baghdad with my husband. We lived in an apartment in the Dorrah neighbourhood, where my husband had a soft-drinks store. Our two children went to school and we led a wonderful life until the day we received a letter with threats from a terrorist group asking for large sums of money if we wanted to keep our business. We paid for two months until one day, ten minutes after my husband had opened the store, I heard shooting, something that is very common nowadays; but this time the shooting was very near”. The woman continued her story: “Without thinking about my children, I opened the door and I saw my husband on the floor. He was bleedeing. I shouted, but I got no answer. Then he opened his eyes and said: ‘Save the children.’” Nisreen escaped to Telesquf, where she now lives with her parents and her children”.As soon as I heard about Etana and of the free courses – the woman said -, I registered in the sewing and hairdresser courses. Now I have a small beauty salon, which actually is just a table with some make-up products and a chair. Moreover, some relatives lent me a sewing-machine that I will continue using until I can afford to buy one of my own”. Nisreen is grateful to Etana “for their commitment, that enables me to support my children”.
 
Source: SIR – Servizio Informazione Religiosa
 

 

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