Women's Empowerment and Leadership Development for Democratisation
Aalia* is a social worker at the women’s shelter in Erbil, Iraq and she became involved in the project through Warvin for Women’s Issues. For her, the most significant lesson was the realization that her shelter, while providing all it could, needed significant changes in order to cater better—or at all—to the psychological and emotional needs of its visitors.
“We never considered how important it is to care for our women’s inner lives as well. We’ve been able to provide the physical shelter, but it was after seeing how shelters in European countries—Sweden, for example—are run, that I realized how much room for improvement there is in ours”, says Aalia*.
From the trainings, Aalia* was able to get a broader perspective on how to improve her time at the shelter. “I realized that we weren’t doing our jobs the right way—we didn’t have any specialized and trained people to handle the gender-based violence survivors we get, we didn’t have updated knowledge on areas like human rights, the law, and other social problems, and we didn’t entirely know how to handle those suffering psychological trauma after Aalia* faced the sort of violence that they had. I have learned now that we can’t help them the way we thought we could, that only specialized and trained experts need to see the GBV survivors.”
Aalia* realized that what the women need are psychiatrists, and more than anything, that even the rooms provided to them are “not psychologically comforting”. She is seeing to it now that special rooms are allocated for this purpose; “they need to be very calm and up to standard, and unfortunately, our rooms right now lack these specifications to quite a large extent.”
“As a social worker, I realize that my job requires a lot. The care of so many women is in my hands, and it’s up to me and my colleagues to ensure their struggles are better handled. But I also recognize that no matter how hard we try, there will always be some shortages, and we need to address them!”
Aalia* mentions how the WELDD project has inspired her to research and increase her knowledge on case management, particularly with victims of gender-based violence. “This was very important, because up to now, we have not yet been trained on how to behave with GBV survivors and respond to their needs. I realized that I need to update myself more on the case management skills and the legal instruments related to our job.”
Aalia* now knows how necessary it is for the social worker to accompany a psychological worker, in order to properly respond to the victims. She aims now to get the best regional and international practices in this respect, and bring the shelter up to the mark.
*Name changed for the sake of privacy