Fe­male Aca­demic Net­works in Kur­dis­tan

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS -

There is a rea­son be­hind es­tab­lish­ing the Fe­male Aca­demic Net­work at the Univer­sity of Kur­dis­tan Hewler. For two years fe­male aca­demics from e.g. Univer­sity of Kur­dis­tan (UKH) and Univer­sity of Brighton have formed a re­search group that has been re­search­ing fe­male aca­demics in Kur­dis­tan re­gion. Ac­cord­ing to the re­search team (Bri­tish Academy Re­search Project Team 2011), women in higher ed­u­ca­tion in the Kur­dis­tan re­gion of Iraq strug­gle bal­anc­ing their aca­demic life and du­ties to­wards their fam­ily. The rapid so­cial change in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion since the fall of the Baath regime in 2003, means that young women face new and chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tions of liv­ing in present-day so­ci­ety. How­ever, there are ways to over­come these strug­gles.

Why net­work­ing?

The re­search showed that many women who suc­ceed in higher ed­u­ca­tion have re­ceived sup­port ei­ther from hus­bands, male mem­bers of the fam­ily, or peer groups. Es­tab­lish­ing a net­work where fe­male stu­dents could em­power and sup­port each other to be­come suc­cess­ful fe­male aca­demics was the idea be­hind UKH’s fe­male aca­demic net­work (FAN).

The net­work was es­tab­lished by two fe­male staff mem­bers Lone Bendixen Goulani and Hediyeh Gol­mo­hamad and sup­ported by the higher ad­min­is­tra­tion at the univer­sity. The co­op­er­a­tion with Brighton Univer­sity in­spired them to sup­port UKH’s fe­male stu­dents also in­di­cat­ing the im­por­tance of con­tin­u­ous in­spi­ra­tion and pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment for fe­male aca­demics in higher ed­u­ca­tion.

Em­pow­er­ment and

Peace­build­ing

The over­all aim of UKH’s fe­male aca­demic net­work is to em­power UKH’s fe­male stu­dents, and since Kur­dis­tan re­gion is in need of both knowl­edge­able men and women to take part in the re­build­ing process, one of the most im­por­tant ob­jec­tives is mak­ing the fe­male stu­dents re­flect upon their ed­u­ca­tion to en­sure they get the most out of their time at univer­sity.

An­other ob­jec­tive is peace build­ing. Even though it is not very ev­i­dent in the class­rooms, the stu­dents have re­ported on con­flicts be­tween Arabs and Kurds, Mus­lims and Chris­tians on Face­book for ex­am­ple. There­fore, ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties gath­er­ing ev­ery­body de­spite re­li­gion, eth­nic­ity, or po­lit­i­cal be­liefs are peace build­ing ac­tivi- ties that can break the bar­ri­ers at the univer­sity and even­tu­ally spread to the broader com­mu­nity, and nat­u­rally UKH likes to take an ac­tive part in this peace build­ing process.

Fe­male staff mem­bers have fa­cil­i­tated ac­tiv­i­ties for fe­male stu­dents for more than a year, and the fe­male par­tic­i­pants have now be­come more in­de­pen­dent and set up ex­tra work­shops on their own. How­ever, they still like to re­ceive the sup­port from UKH staff and have ex­pressed their wishes for fu­ture ac­tiv­i­ties rang­ing from prac­tic­ing pre­sen­ta­tion skills, Zumba fit­ness, guest speak­ers, and ex­cur­sions into the so­ci­ety. UKH’s fe­male aca­demics con­tinue to net­work and in­spire oth­ers in the re­gion to do like­wise.

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