» Kurdish women hand on newly won literacy skills to their children
22.08.2016 - Education Sector

Kurdish women hand on newly won literacy skills to their children

© UNESCO - Saedia Mustafa arriving to pick up her certificate on the last day of the course

The first thing women in rural Kurdistan who took an intensive literacy course did once they finished was to open their books again to start teaching their children.

The 62 women took part in the three-month literacy and life skills course as part of the UNESCO project ‘Socioeconomic Development of Women in Rural Areas in Iraq’ which targets women and young girls in rural Kurdistan.

The course, which took place at local Community Learning Centres, aimed to teach literacy and basic social and life-skills, create a cadre of female agricultural outreach workers able to pass on their skills and set up small businesses, establish a network of Rural Women volunteers to carry out community outreach on reproductive health and Gender-based Violence issues and create a network of women leaders and associations.

The women taking part in the course which also catered for disabled women came from all over the region including Kirkuk, Mosul and Karbala and had many different reasons for wanting to learn.

Jilan Adbel-Qader who attended the course at the al Qadsh Community Learning Centre in Dohuk said: “I am now able to help my children practice reading and writing during their summer holidays to prepare them for the new school year.”

Saedia Mustafa also planned to use her new literacy skills to help her children with their homework but hoped reading and writing skills would help her get a job as her husband is unemployed.

For Amira Saedoun the course had made her life as a seamstress much easier. “Before taking this three-month literacy course I had a hard time at work because I didn’t know how to write the measurements for the clothes I was working on.”

A step towards independence

Zaituna Ibraheem said she planned to keep up with the news inside and outside her country by reading the papers while Bayan Kamal Salih had gained a little independence.

“I was unable to save the names and numbers of contacts on my phone before taking the literacy course because I couldn’t read or write, but now I am very happy because I can save them without asking anyone else for help,” she said.

Many of the women aimed to put their skills to increase their chances of work. “One of the main reasons I signed up for the reading and writing class was to finally get my driving license,” said Shno Ahmad Saeed.

UNESCO worked with three NGOs, Peace Generation Network in Erbil, Kurdistan, the Social Development Organization in Sulaymaniah and Alind in Duhok to open ten  learning centres targeting 600 women and girls.

The programme is implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, as well as the Kurdistan High Council of Women Affairs, Civil Society Organizations and women’s NGOs.


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