A Syrian-Kurdish refugee woman looks on behind a wire fence at the Qushtapa refugee camp, 15 kilometers south of Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. File photo

ARA News

Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan – The increasing rate of unemployment, the decreasing work opportunities, especially for young men, high prices and not attending universities due to clashes and abduction on the roads, are among the numerous side effects of the Syrian crisis.

This is the case with many Kurdish women, who fled, mainly to Iraqi Kurdistan, with their families and were obliged to work to bear the burdens of asylum.

Several Kurdish women talked to ARA News on the issue of women’s employment and the challenges they face, mainly in the Kurdistan Region, north of Iraq.   

Rawan Mohamad is a 19-year-old girl who fled with her family to Hewler (Erbil), capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and works now in a fast-food restaurant. She talked to ARA News about the travel reasons and work conditions; “The high cost of living and my father’s inability to provide our daily needs pushed us to leave Syria. However, the expensive rental and food items surprised us in Iraqi Kurdistan, so we all decided to work to carry our personal expenditures.”

Rawan also talked about people’s opinion and treatment to the female workers in Erbil and other areas of Iraqi Kurdistan, saying: “Some respect us while others think that it is humiliating for us (females) to work. Most of the girls working in cafes and restaurants across the Kurdistan Region are Syrians.”

Rawan expressed her contentment with work as it reinforces her self-confidence and strengthens her personality and self-dependence.

Speaking to ARA News in Erbil, Mayasa al-Hido, a 33-year-old Syrian women living with her husband and working in a home appliances shop, said: “I couldn’t find a job immediately because I don’t like to work in shopping malls or marketing in general, as many of Iraqi Kurds consider Syrian working girls as cheap, and some of them are even exposed to harassment. However, many respectful girls were obliged to take those jobs due to their difficult conditions.” Mayasa requested Syrian women not to “distort their dignity”.

Barin Malla, a 22-year-old Syrian girl working in service sector in northern Iraq, told ARA News that there is no shame to work “as the difficult living conditions urged many Syrian families to leave the country and look for some job opportunities in areas like Iraqi Kurdistan, where the society is not really used to see young girls working in shops and restaurants to earn living. Syrian women are suffering the most under the pressures of such a retarded society.”

Barin finds no detraction in women’s work. “Women are able to uphold their dignity wherever they work. Like men, women can work to help their families, gain their independence and strengthen their personalities. The only problem is the way the hiring society look at them as refugees, without considering the conditions that pushed them to work.”

According to the international statistics, three million Syrian refugees live now in Syria’s neighbouring countries, all suffer difficult living conditions.


Reporting by: Leen Ali

Source: ARA News

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