Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation

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The WLUML-WELDD Butterfly Effect: Need for Improvement in Erbil’s Shelter System

Published Date: 
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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Fozia* is a social worker at the Erbil shelter in Iraq through WARVIN Foundation for Women’s Issues. For her, the biggest lesson was realizing the gaps present in the shelter system, and how much room for improvement there was, and how little people’s psychological states are taken into account.

“The most interesting outcome of the project for me—the most striking, i would say—was that for the first time, I saw just how much risk both the shelter and its workers are under,” Fozia* says.

What helped her come to this conclusion was the exposure to women from different countries, undertaking tasks similar to her. Along with this, she was shown how the shelter system works in European counties—“that was really helpful for me in examining the problems of our shelter, and understanding by example how to solve them.”

Fozia* says that it was after this realization she saw how much she had underestimated the problems. “I decided to work on finding a better and safer place for all the women living there, and for all the social workers. The security is so weak, and everyone involved in this project needs especially strong security. The health system, too, is weak—so there is the physical risk there as well.”

As the Manager/Director of the Shelter I have the responsibility to make sure the security, health, and the managing system is improved.”

Fozia* admits that she had been running this shelter with little prior experience. Up till then, she had not had training in how to manage the shelter, and realized that the services provided are inadequate and not up to international standards. “The WELDD project brought me a lot of local and regional expertise that I have been sure to include in my new plans for the shelter.”

Through discussions and exposure to other women equally invested in this area, Fozia* has been able to identify the areas that need improvement and will gather the resources to set about doing so.

The project made me think of a new location for the building, because the current location is not very secure and the guards need to be better positioned,” Fozia* says. “The psychosocial services need to be updated, and the functioning has to be brought up to international standards.”


*Name changed for the sake of privacy

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