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We Are "Hanya"

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Women Entrepreneurs in Iraq are Preventing the Spread of COVID-19

In 2017, Hasiba, Rajaa, Najma, Amal, and Shakiba were five of the 300 women enrolled in Women for Women International’s programme in Daratu in Iraq. Today, they are agents for change who protect their communities from coronavirus.
The five women attended trainings where they learned to care for their family members’ health, financial skills, and how to start their own business, along with other valuable lessons about their rights. Through the programme, they had the opportunity to take sewing classes, and learned to sew dresses, trousers, shirts, and traditional Kurdish and Arabic outfits. Their trainer impressed upon them the value of their work through her own personal experiences.

From a shared dream to a successful business

Together, Hasiba, Rajaa, Najma, Amal, Hasiba, and Shakiba combined what they had learned from Women for Women International and began to form a dream, which then became a plan: Start a tailoring business.

They presented their plan to Women for Women International and after graduating, secured a business start-up grant from the organisation to make their dream a reality. They called their group “Hanya,” named after Hasiba’s daughter.

In a small shop above one of their homes, the women of Hanya use what they learned from the programme to earn an income. They have expanded their business by printing business cards that they’ve distributed to neighbours to attract more customers.

Responding to Covid-19

Amidst a strict lockdown in northern Iraq and the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, Hanya realized they could do more. Hasiba said, “I was sewing traditional Kurdish clothes for my children when they wanted to go and play in a garden near my house. So, I decided to sew them masks.”
Each of the five entrepreneurs knew about health and disease from their lessons at Women for Women International. The group got together and brought the fabric they had left to start sewing more masks. They made many and shared them with their immediate family members, relatives, and neighbours in their community.
Once, Hasiba, Rajaa, Najma, Amal, and Shakiba were counted as vulnerable. Now, they are sharing the strength, skills, and knowledge they have gained to protect fellow community members who need support.

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We invest in the strength of women’s connections and community, even across distances. Our teams and participants are now using those connections to protect and support one another during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Iraq is in lockdown our team continues to stay in touch with the women we serve. Shan, our Economic Empowerment Manager has been making calls and using social media to send women important news about health, government resources, and especially to make sure women know they aren’t alone.


Hope Beyond the Headlines


To instil a sense of hope during the Coronavirus pandemic, we are collating this hub of inspiring stories from members of our global sisterhood.