|© UNICEF Iraq/2007/Dhayi|
|Iraqi women face many challenges to fulfil their potential and that of their children in uncertain times.|
By Blue Chevigny
NEW YORK, USA, 28 March 2007 – Nada, 40, lives in Baghdad with her husband and four children – two boys and two girls, all school age. “Our life is a hard life,” Nada (not her real name) told UNICEF Radio in a telephone interview.
Nada recalls that she initially thought the war that began in Iraq in 2003 might improve the situation. But the increased danger in her daily life has been the biggest change brought by the conflict. “We have lost security, 100 per cent. You’re not secure at work, you're not secure at home or in the streets,” she laments.
“For your children,” Nada continues, “you can't be sure of their safety even at home, and the whole time they are at school, you worry. There’s no one who escapes this insecurity.”
Education and hard work
Nada has made a point of keeping all her children in school throughout the violent times in Baghdad, but due to the unpredictability of the danger it’s impossible for their education to go unimpeded. Still, she finds the idea of pulling her children out of school is illogical.
“If I decided to keep one or all of the children at home, then it could be a long time. I don't know when the danger will end,” she reasons. “And if I decided to keep them out of school for a year or two, they will miss a lot compared to their peers. Life requires education and to work hard, so we must struggle to achieve these two things, even in the face of danger.”
In fact, Nada herself returned to university three years ago to get her degree in economics and advance her career. A couple of months ago, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive at the school while Nada was there.
“The bomber came into the information area, where the security guards are, and blew himself up among a group of students,” she says. “It was a shock for everyone. We saw some injured people, and others collapsed because of the shock of what they witnessed. It was during mid-term exams. We were all there, and the attack occurred five minutes before we were supposed to enter the exam room.”
‘The violence will not stop me’
Nonetheless, Nada will not be sidetracked from her goal. “It’s not acceptable to leave my studies now and sacrifice the three years I have put in,” she insists. “We can’t give up at these crucial points in our lives. Our fate is to continue and be determined, to carry on.
“The violence will not stop me, and the rest depends on luck,” she adds. “God willing, I will finish my last year and obtain my degree.”
Nada is one of the many strong women in Iraq today who are holding their own lives together, as well as those of their children, and doing all they can to build a brighter future for their families.
“The only thing we wish for is to get our security back,” she says. “This is the most basic right, a human right. Once the first priority is met – security for ourselves and our families – the rest will follow, slowly and step by step.”