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Education for all

Five bloggers, five countries, one dialogue

Glimpses into three women’s lives

Female school teachers in Iraq (photo. Hellgurd S. Ahmed).

Gender equality - a lot has changed, but more needs to be done

I wanted to write about women in Iraq this weekend, so I decided to meet with some from different walks of life. That way I could have a better sense of what females are feeling and thinking about in life and how much freedom they feel like they have. Now I want to describe some of the highlights.

First, I met a friend who teaches at a primary school. She’s married and has a kid. She is quite pleased with the freedom women have in this century.

“This freedom is still not enough – though much better than what we had in past decades,” she said.

“I think it’s better for girls to get married to someone whose occupation is the same as hers or at least similar – that way they understand each other better. I have a child, though, so working can be a problem because I have to send him to a nursery, and I’m not sure whether he will be as well behaved as I want. But I have no choice,” my friend added.

Hellgurd interviewing (photo: Hellgurd S. Ahmed)

Me, conducting interviews

Next I talked with an unemployed young woman who graduated from a media college three years ago. She got a government job at one point but is very upset with what happened.

“The work depended sometimes on whether they were in the mood to employ you. Other times it just depended on what they thought about your specialty and whether it was popular,” she said angrily.

The third one was an old woman who never got to go to school when she was young. She had tears in her eyes when she talked to me.

“Son,” she started to say very sweetly, “When I was young, I lived in a village with my family. We had no school in the village – we didn’t even know exactly what school was. It was just the mosques that would teach our men and boys how to learn to write and read. Sometimes they had to leave their villages to do so. Back then, very few women were allowed to study, and that was only in the big cities,” she said.

Girl from Iraq (photo: Hellgurd S. Ahmed).

A brighter future for the next generation?

“I feel very sad that I can’t enjoy this life because I feel like a blind person: I can’t read or write or join in modern life. But, fortunately, I can see my kids and future generations living full lives now. I remember sometimes that a letter would come for someone in the village, and there was no one to read it. Instead, we had to wait until the men came back. In those days, that was very normal, but when I compare it with now, I feel like it was such a disaster,” she continued with a heavy heart.

I think these three examples showcase the status of women in general in my country. They also show that change has been made over time. I hope we can have a better life among these changes, but we still have to try to do more. As the young generation, we should work on changing how the people in government think.


May 22, 2012 | 1:30 pm