My words on International Women’s Day 2012

Dearest, most loyal reader…

The girls and I at the end of one of the sessions

Do you remember how once, late at night I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote “It is my time” and less than two months later I wrote “My dream is for their dreams”  I wrote of how the idea came to me to undertake small group discussions and workshops for young girls in underprivilged areas in the city I was living in. Up to today, no matter what I do, and no matter what happens, deep down inside those days are probably the rare occasions in my life that I have felt “Yes! I have achieved something.” After every four hour session with each of the girls I felt a change, four hours went a long way in the life of these girls. I felt loved among them, and it was difficult waving goodbye for the few girls who always remained behind and never left, until I left first. After a while I got close to these young woman, a connection was formed, I understood them more than anyone, as they found it easy to open up to me and express themselves. Either because I gave them the chance, or they could relate to me.

The girls in their group work mission

 I still remember when I asked the girls about their plans after school, one of the girls didn’t look forward to completing her studies because she was going to get married immediately after. It was family arranged for her to marry a relative as soon as she finished her school.

I still remember the girl who said she wanted to be a police woman, but her family refused.

I still recall in my mind when the girls had a discussion among themselves and said they wished to just go out with few friends somewhere– without their mothers’ company.

This was one of the more serious sessions, where as a group we would listen to each other and provide possible solutions. The girls expressed their thoughts, experiences and emotions to me in many unbelievable ways. (Left is me, trying to take in what I was hearing. I know what it was.)

As I was packing my papers to the car, I still remember one of the girls who wouldn’t disappear from my eye sight, it was clear she wanted to speak to me away from everyone else. I gave her the chance to by the car, she didn’t hesitate to share with me a major dilemma in her life. “Please tell me what to do” still echoes in my ears. Before we managed to solve the matter a teacher came and told her off for ‘bothering’ me. Which I found ridiculous because I was there for those girls anyway.

I remember very well for weeks on my desk at work I had the hand written words of these girls who wrote on a piece of paper that “Bale” (yes) “I am circumcizes” they had undergone Female Genital Mutilation when they were young. How I wished to make a session for the girls just to discuss this matter, but at the time the situation didn’t help at all.

This is probably the extreme end of the young girls we have in Kurdistan. I purposely chose to visit the most underprivileged areas in the city of Erbil. There is no doubt that right now, girls as such as a minority when compared to the bigger picture. However, it is the voices of these young woman I want to make heard. I want their opinions, way of life and thoughts to be shown to the bigger Kurdistan, so that we can help to build better lifes for them.

I enjoy working with such girls the most. I enjoy working in these circumstances more than anyother. It was these times I loved most, more than going to conferences and meetings. However, with this experience, I could sit around a table and say A LOT. But as much as I say, I have to wait a long time till I see a change. However, in my little sessions in an old, small room somewhere in an ancient girls’ school in a unfortunate area of Erbil all it takes is four hours to see a little change that goes a long way…. I like to see results. Immediately.

One day with young girls on an old library floor, and another with elder women in a fancy hotel conference room. I realize in Kurdistan you need to balance the two in order to make a change. Work with the ordinary people but have a voice among the decision makers. (Me on the right in a conference undertaken by Kvinna Til Kvinna)

I am excited to return back home, and once again begin this initiative, this time my friends Bewar and Ashna will be by my side, and as usual START will support. START has always welcomed my ideas, supported me and helped when I was stuck.

Finally, before I sign off, I can’t let this special day pass without congratulating Pura Gulizard, only God knows how much I miss this friend of mine who lives in the elderly people’s home in Erbil.

I swear I tried fixing the pictures, it didn’t work. Anyhow, turn your computers around, this is Pura Gulizard. Someone who always manages to make me smile… and cry at the same time.

One thought on “My words on International Women’s Day 2012

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  1. I always think and i always say that to any of Kurds whom i know – that every person should chose wife or husband for him/herself – as these two people will have to live together till the end of their lives. Thats one of the things that Kurdistan should change.
    Also nany times when i talk with men about freedom of women – those men see the freedom only in a sexual aspect (sorry for touching that subject here, but i want to explain, where is the error) – so i think its the reason why men prevent women from being free and decide about themselves, coz the men think that first of all women will take off clothes and do dirty things. I heard that from men – exactly like that. While the truth is that i really doubt that women have such a way of thinking in their heads. At least not me. Freedom means that if she want to be police – she will educate herself to be police. If she want to stay at home and look after many kids, she will do that – but it should be only woman's decision – coz her life belongs to her.
    And my dear brothers, my dear men – you dont have to be afraid of women's freedom – they will not do anything worse than you, guys doing. Slaves will never have genuine respect for those who oppress them, who wants to ban their freedom – consider that, my dear brothers.


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