The LitWorld Girls Club in Erbil, Iraq Visit the Kurdistan Parliament

The Venus Girls Club in Erbil, Iraq have been quite the leadership role models. Recently, they visited the Kurdistan Parliament to meet their local leaders, and got a chance to meet the people who actively take part in their government's decision making policies. See below for their photos:

They've also held their own cleaning campaign, promoting environmental health in their school and at a nearby children's hospital. They are really making a difference!

The Girls Club in Iraq is a very inspiring group. Congratulations to facilitator Saadia F. Hassoon for being an excellent role model to these young women!

Give to Girls All Over the World.

If you have visited this blog before, you are familiar with LitWorld's work in empowering young women in countries such as Kenya, Iraq, Ghana, Liberia, and in various locations in the U.S.

This Holiday season, we have decided to engage our international community in a gift that lasts a lifetime:  launching five new Girls Clubs sites throughout the world. LitWorld Girls Clubs for literacy provides mentoring, literacy & leadership workshops, health & safety information, and lessons on female empowerment & the importance of education to girls in vulnerable communities. We equip these young women to become literacy leaders, thus allowing them to be more self-sufficient, educated, and empowered.

Please visit our Global Giving page on how you can give your gift to girls , and please tell your friends to pass the word along. You can also watch our video below, and go to this link for more information!


Introducing the "Venus Girls Club in Erbil"!

Girls Clubs in Iraq have officially launched in Erbil,with 13 young women in participation! When the girls were asked what to expect from the program, they replied that they expected Girls Club to "empower our personality in the right way, have an opportunity to know more about others". One of the other participants also offered, "I have goal to  achieve, and I hope this program will help me get on the right steps toward this goal".

When we asked the girls about their goals , their replies were as follows:
- To be a journalist not only on Iraq level, but on the world level, in order to let the world hear an Iraqi woman's voice.
-To be a police officer, in order to enforce and apply the  law.
-To  explore the world by traveling and learning the people's customs and traditions.
-To be an Arabic teacher in order to help other Kurdish people to know the language of their partners( Arab people) in Iraq.

The girls felt so empowered, they elected club officers to create a more formal organization of the club and spread its mission even further to other young women. They've even officially named the club as the Venus Girls Club in Erbil.

The girls exchanged their stories, and were so pleased to have the right of speech and to have the freedom to express their ideas. Our second meeting is set for the earlier part of 2011. More to come soon!

As reported by Girls Club Erbil Leader, Saadia Hassoon

LitWorld Girls Club Launches in Erbil, Iraq!

Young women from the Together organization in Erbil, Iraq

As you may remember from earlier this season, we at LitWorld launched a campaign to benefit students in Iraq called "Change is in the Air", a campaign to send school supplies to Iraqi children. Our efforts to build with Iraq doesn't stop there. We've also partnered with an organization called Together to launch a Girls Club in Erbil, Iraq. Recently, we got a chance to interview our Erbil Girls Club Leader, Saadia Hassoon, so she can properly introduce the Girls Club. Read on to see what it's all about!

1.)What is the learning environment like at Erbil? Can you describe what the schools and classrooms are like for the children there?

There are three types of learning environment in Erbil, I will describe them below.

*Private Schools (one American school –Shwaifat ):  This is very expensive, and only rich people can send their children. They are very good schools, and the teaching language is English for all levels.

*Less Expensive Private Schools (Turkish school- Ishiq,): The teaching language also English, as well as Turkish. Also Media school is a good private school.

*Typical Public Schools –These types of schools accept only high scoring students, and are also very good schools, with no fees from students.

*Schools for talent students, only one school in Erbil, one in Mosel, and more than one in Baghdad.

Then there are many other public schools with many needs like:

Bad bathroom facilities and a lack of healthy drinking water, no labs for physics, chemistry, biology, language, painting, music, or art, and no entertainment activities. Teachers who teach here are in need of new training in their teaching practices.

2.)What are some of the greatest needs of the girls in Iraq? What are some of their most pressing challenges?

Girls in rural areas present the greatest needs. Their greatest challenges are illiteracy, tribal habits, violence, and early marriage, which prevents them from continuing the studying  process.

Among these, the most pressing challenge is illiteracy, because we realize that when we combat illiteracy, then we can go forward and fight for other women’s rights.

A New Report by UNICEF: Girls Education in Iraq 2010

An excerpt from AWID's website (Association for Women's Right in Development):

Source: Reliefweb

"In Iraq the overall number of children receiving primary education has declined between 2004-05 and 2007-08 by 88,164, with no improvement in the percentage of girls enrolled. Gross enrolment figures provided for the academic year 2005 – 2005 show 5,163,440 children enrolled in primary education. Girls account for 44.74% of students. Figures for 2007-2008 show 5,065,276 children enrolled in primary education, with 44.8 % being girls. This means that for every 100 boys enrolled in primary schools in Iraq, there are just under 89 girls.

This under representation of girls in primary school in Iraq has been known for many years. The fact that there are declining numbers of girls in each successive grade has also been identified analyses of the data. Analysis of the 2007 -2008 data shows the same picture. In every governorate a smaller percentage of girls than boys start school. There are no governorates where the number of children completing primary education is acceptable, and it is even less acceptable for girls. The current data replicate previously available data in showing a generally declining percentage of girls in each successive primary school grade. Some 75% of girls who start school have dropped out during, or at the end of, primary school and so do not go on to intermediate education. Many of them will have dropped out after grade 1. When all governorates' figures are combined, there are 21.66% fewer girls in grade 2 than in grade 1. Similarly there is a 28.63% national drop in the number of girls between grades 5 and 6. By the first intermediate class, only 25% the number of girls in grade 1 are in school; by the third intermediate class the figure is 20%."

Read more by visiting AWID's website here.

LitWorld is contributing to the advancement of young women's education in Iraq by starting Girls Club in Erbil. We will update you all as the project progresses!

Girls Club in Iraq is underway!

Just in line with our "Change is in the Air" Campaign, we are proud and happy to announce that our Girls Club in Erbil, Iraq will be coming into fruition very soon. LitWorld's Special Projects Team Leader, Jen Estrada, will be initiating the program along with a nongovernmental human rights organization called Together,  and will begin training sessions for the facilitators in Iraq via Skype (we love technology!).

The young women, ages 10-12, will also receive their very own school supplies, thanks to the plane set to bring change in the air!

Have you helped us spread the word yet?

image found on wikimedia, by Christiaan Briggs

We Believe in the Education of Iraqi Girls.

The number of Iraqi students enrolled in primary education has dramatically declined between 2004-2008, with female students becoming increasingly under represented. There is little importance placed on girls’ education, and 75% who enroll drop out during, or at the end of, primary school with no succession to higher grade levels. Iraqi families hesitate to retain girls’ education due to concerns about safety, family poverty, a reluctance to allow adolescent girls to continue to attend school, the distance from home to school, early marriage, and the need to help at home.

Furthermore, girls in Iraq are not greeted with welcoming learning environments. They are threatened by teachers who beat and insult them in the classroom, and teachers show them little support in the learning process. Many girls describe their schools as dirty, poorly maintained, and uncomfortable. Safety is a major concern as military conflict is rampant, and these young women fear going to school because of their added fear against abduction and rape.

These young women of Iraq deserve better. They need a safe space for learning, where they can build confidence to be self-sufficient. In addition to our "Change is in the Air" campaign benefiting Iraqi youth, we are also planning to launch a Girls Club in Iraq in partnership with the Sponsor Iraqi Children Foundation.

We invite you all to start a movement to bring a Girls Club in your City. Do you have a place where you think a Girls Club should be launched?