Empowering Iraqi women for economic independence: UNDP's initiatives in livelihood development by capacity building

October 15, 2023

Sakinah's story 

Located in the west of Iraq’s Anbar governorate, the city of Haditha, 260 km west of the capital city of Baghdad, is characterized by fertile agricultural land, natural beauty, and freshwater springs.  This is where Sakinah, 28, lives with her four brothers.   She works as an administration and reports officer at the mayor's office and is an active member of the local Women’s Forum. She also leads the Women's Empowerment Committee, where she also holds an administrative role.  

Ever since she was a little girl, Sakinah was always striving to learn new things. Growing up with mostly brothers, she always had a competitive spirit. When the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) offered a training course in computer literacy, she was one of the first to participate. Through the training, she learned to format devices, install programs, troubleshoot common computer problems, and learned to fix them. In addition to this, she became proficient in MS Office programs like Word and Excel. 

“I always strive to develop my abilities in various fields, so that I can keep up with life and development.” 

Prior to the training programme, Sakinah was not technologically inclined. But after the training programme ended, Sakinah walked out of the training center, head held high, proudly holding her certificate and her laptop, as proof of her newfound computer literacy skillset.  

“As I walked out of the centre, I felt a sense of accomplishment and hope come over me. I looked around at the city I grew up in and I saw it in a different light. I saw the possibility of learning this new technology as a means to further develop myself and my city. The fields seemed greener, the springs more vibrant and the people friendlier. The world opened up all of a sudden and at that moment, everything seemed possible,” she said.  

Acquiring this new skill empowered Sakinah to give back to her community, leveraging the potential of using technology for development, and securing for herself a role in making it happen in her community. Her computer skills have had a positive impact on her life and work. She is now able to produce presentations and analyze data in Excel, she is also now able to organize events to train other women on how to use computers and programs. She is a passionate advocate for computer literacy, encouraging other women in her community to embrace technology.   

“I am passionate about sharing my knowledge and empowering other women, I believe that what I have learned, I must pass onto the next woman,” said Sakinah.  

"My experience has inspired me to become an advocate for computer literacy. I want other women to embrace learning and taking advantage of technology to make their lives and work better. It is an important skill that can open up new opportunities and help people achieve their full potential," Sakinah says. 

UNDP is committed to empowering women and Iraqi civil servants through computer literacy. Through the computer training course that UNDP's Funding Facility for Stabilization offers, since 2021 more than 15,703 staff of the different sectoral directorates in Iraq have developed the skills they need to thrive in the digital age.  And as the stabilization programme segways into transformative and sustainable development, Sakinah and other women like her will again be one of the first ones leading the charge.