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Dreams never die: Empowering women in Iraq

In Iraq, recurring conflict and political instability have shattered the lives of families and communities across the country. This has, unsurprisingly, hindered the stability and growth of the nation.

For women in particular, financial opportunities are limited due to continued discrimination and multiple barriers which prevent them from working openly in the public sphere.

Only 14% of women are working or actively seeking work. This compares to 73% of men.

There obviously remains massive gaps in the work market with many women financially dependent on their families.

Islamic Relief: Supporting women in Iraq

Here at Islamic Relief, we’re working to provide Iraqi women with the opportunities to work and create more sustainable independent futures.

Just one of the many women we’ve been helping is Khanda.

Khanda is 25 years old and was born and raised in Erbil – the capital of the Kurdistan region of Iraq – with her three sisters and three brothers.

Sadly, she lost her father whilst she was studying at high school. He was the sole breadwinner of the family.

This marked the start of a difficult period for Khanda and the rest of her family. With their financial guardian gone, the family had very little left to live on.

Khanda and her siblings struggled to continue their studies. However, Khanda managed to continue her education and alhamdulillah, graduated from university after studying Microbiology.

Building a brighter future: Khanda’s creating change

After graduating, Khanda sought every opportunity possible to find a source of income to start her career. But she just couldn’t find a job in the field of microbiology.

So she broadened her search and while she was looking for any kind of work, she saw an online advertisement for vocational training provided by Islamic Relief Iraq and applied:

I was delighted when I received a call from Islamic Relief saying that my application had been accepted for hairdressing training.

Khanda had no previous experience in the beauty sector but this didn’t deter her:

I put all my energy into the programme to gain as much experience as possible so I could combine this experience with my educational background.

After graduating from the programme and receiving her certificate, she was eligible to apply for other jobs and opportunities. She then applied for a business start-up grant from the European Technology & Training Centre and received a grant of  £1,385.

Alhamdulillah, Khanda was then able to open a shop to sell healthy beauty products – combining her background in microbiology and beauty.

At first, Khanda received some criticism for her work but this did not deter her:

Don’t listen to negative comments. I received comments saying this is not what you qualified for, but now I have my own business and the same people are coming to my shop to buy products.

Now I’m thinking of making my business international.

Thanks to the Islamic Relief programme and your generous donations, Khanda has been able to create a bright future for herself.

She is incredibly grateful for your support and has big dreams. She’s now thinking about making her own brand:

I thank God for always being with me and both Islamic Relief Iraq and the EU for providing me with this training and certificate that meant I could start my own business.

Thank you for your continued support. You’re helping to transform the lives of women like Khanda and many, many more.

You truly are lifesavers.

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