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Access to income sources and stable job opportunities remain the most pressing needs for many Iraqis in Northern Iraq¹.
In 2021, the socio-economic impacts of the lockdown and movement restrictions due to Covid-19 have deepened inequalities and unemployment, especially for women. Only 12.4% of women are employed at the moment, against 72.6% of men. Yet, women’s engagement in income generation activities is considered a powerful empowerment tool and one that will support improved social cohesion. Despite the deterioration of employment and access to incomes in Iraq as a result of Covid-19, the social protection system of the country is largely non-functional, leaving vulnerable families with no other options than resorting to negative coping strategies to meet their basic needs, such as selling production assets, closing business or even limiting health and education expenses.
In 2022, Action contre la Faim in Iraq launched a program to support the resilience of businesses in vulnerable communities, affected by Covid-19. In Ninewa and Basra governorates of Iraq (Northern and Southern parts of the country), our team provided financial support to 30 business owners, including 9 women and 21 men, to restart their businesses affected by the pandemic.
Ruqaya, 18 years old, is the proud business owner of a local shop in the district of Baaj, in Ninewa governorate. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, she was forced to suspend her business like other business owners in the local market. Without any activity for months, the goods and equipment in her shop started deteriorating, and her family lost their main source of income. “My family and I could no longer afford to meet our most basic needs,” explains Ruqaya.
With the support of Action contre la Faim, Ruqaya received a cash grant to restart her activity in 2022. She was able to revive her small business, while also improving her working conditions through new equipment to furnish her shop. Thanks to this economic support, she was able to resume her sales and make a living of her activity. “My income and the profit from the sales enable me to support my family and meet our basic needs. Women can lead businesses!” she confirms.
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