As the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of formal educational institutions and programs globally, including in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), SEED embraced the use of technology to ensure safe interactions with our clients, including online. One such initiative is the SEED Girls Program which aims to empower girls from all communities with skills and knowledge to identify solutions to some of the challenges facing them and their peers. We believe in all girls’ rights, dignity, and potential. SEED celebrated the graduation of 70 girls, ages 12 to 17, under this program on October 11, marking the International Day of the Girl Child. This program is supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Government.
The SEED Girls program strives to empower girls with the knowledge, skills, and supportive relationships to navigate the gender and social barriers, risks, and challenges they face as young women in Kurdistan. The program aims to support girls in leading a healthy life, protecting themselves, and building strong, positive relationships with their families and communities.
SEED Vice President Tanya Gilly Khailany told the girls, “We at SEED want to thank all of you for the commitment and work you put into SEED Girls, towards your own self-growth and that of your communities. We hope what you take from SEED Girls is a sense of trust, in yourself and in your peers, and confidence in yourself to be able to accomplish what you set your mind to, whether it is in school, in your community, or in your future careers. We hope that you feel confident to move forward as leaders. We hope that you feel assured in the strong support networks who have your back. We hope you know your rights and feel empowered to claim them.”
Kazho Latif, Advisor for GIZ’s Strengthening the Participation of Women in the Rehabilitation and Peace Process in Iraq, shared with the girls, “Through the strong and safe communities created through SEED Girls, we hope you will be able to not only enhance your abilities, but you will be able to improve the lives of other young girls and boys in the society.”
SEED Girls provides structured discussions covering an array of topics, such as online safety, health, and GBV, as well as large interactive online workshops on areas such as girl’s leadership, girl’s rights, and mental health. It also hosts an online platform for girls to interact with one another in a safe and positive virtual environment, and includes an advice column, where girls can engage with, and learn from, one another and experts within SEED who answer questions posed by adolescent girls. The SEED Girls program also engages with their parents, as we are working to build healthy families. The program offers parents awareness sessions on how to strengthen their relationships with their daughters, and contribute to the safety and wellbeing of their daughters. The parents of current participants were committed to their girls’ participation and to supporting them to lead healthy and happy lives.
“The skills the girls learn last a lifetime. They are not only learning about sexual and reproductive health, GBV and online safety, but they are learning about their rights, how to make the right decision, study, and follow their dreams – critically important skills that can support their future,” said Shano Ghafour, the SEED Girls Facilitator.