Kurdistan Region of Iraq – Working women fighting the pandemic

 As the COVID-19 pandemic makes it even harder to earn a living, research on the gender impact of Coronavirus shows that the loss of economic opportunities is more dramatic for women, who already faced an insecure and unstable situation in Iraq.

Women typically earn less and can save less. This makes it difficult for women to weather the economic storm caused by the pandemic and has resulted in a spike in women’s unemployment.

Together with our local partners, we provide safe spaces for women to gain the skills they need to earn their own money. With the support of Qudra 2, the University of Koya offered practical training for 20 women on the production of sanitisers and soaps. The training was designed to promote job opportunities for 20 female youth, including a training module on business start-ups and fighting the pandemic.

In parallel, supported by Qudra 2, Medical World Factory provided on-the-job training on the industrial production of urgently required personal protective equipment (PPE). 45 unemployed youth, primarily women from vulnerable groups in Daratoo, Erbil, participated in the training.

At Kurd Moda factory, Qudra 2 initiated a second round of training for another 20 unemployed women on designing clothes and PPE. The 15 women who completed the first round of training, which we highlighted in a previous newsletter, all found employment at the Kurd Moda factory.

Qudra 2, together with local partners in the private sector, continues to support women, protect them from the negative socio-economic impact of the pandemic, and improve their wellbeing.

Gender-Sensitive Media Coverage

Media plays a vital role as a source of information and shaper of opinion. Yet, women’s voices are often underrepresented, and content production continues to perpetuate gender stereotypes. Coverage of violence against women is often insensitive and sensationalist. Therefore, sometimes media are intentionally or unintentionally harming women when covering such critical and sensitive topics.

In this context, CFI medias conducted two workshops on Gender Sensitive Media Coverage to improve journalists’ skills and knowledge concerning the guidelines they should abide by when covering women related issues.

The first workshop took place face to face on 2-3 December 2020. Alia Awada conducted the second workshop, online, from 27-29 January 2021.

During the workshops, Ms Awada sought to improve participants’ understanding of sex, gender, and gender-based violence concepts and provided information about women’s rights and international agreements.  She provided participants with practical guidance on producing gender-sensitive media coverage and content on most vulnerable women and girls and technical advice on how to challenge the stereotypical image of women in digital and traditional media. The participants were trained to communicate with women and girls surviving gender-based violence (GBV) by using the “do no harm” principle, which is also one of the guiding principles of Qudra 2.

Infodemic in the shadow of the pandemic

Disease threats like #COVID19 are difficult to cope with both psychologically and physically. While most people are looking for the most updated information about the pandemic, the information overload can create “information pollution” that results in “fake news” appearing in the media.
Alongside the COVID-19 pandemic we have witnessed an #infodemic, which is why it is important to find credible and reliable sources of information!
CFImedia (The French Media Development Agency) has organised several online webinars and workshops on fact-checking and media information literacy for the journalists residing in Jordan and Lebanon. The workshops had a special focus on quick methods of fact-checking for the news related to COVID-19 pandemic and refugees and the steps to be taken for fact-checking and health coverage.
An additional workshop was organised to develop the skills of journalists covering the health issues affecting refugees and highlighting the challenges raised due to #COVID19, in particular.
Since vulnerable societies, including refugees, are most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the emphasis was on the importance of press coverage of refugees in light of the #Corona #pandemic and the most prominent mechanisms and standards to be taken into account during press coverage.
Journalists discussed healthcare, medical journalism, responsibility, ethics, objectivity and the challenges journalists face while covering the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on local communities, especially refugees.

Here is what participants had to say:

“The experience was very nice, I loved it, especially that it was held online, it was very beneficial. The speaker was amazing and very informative. We learnt how to tell if the tweets are fake, and how they are done, also we learnt how to do fact-checking for pictures and tell if they are photoshopped or not.”

Boshra Shaheen Merhi, Journalist, Jummana Haddad Freedoms Centre – Participated in the Media Information Literacy and Fact-Checking workshop

“The workshop was very informative, and the speaker was skilled, we felt that there has to be a sequel for this workshop because there are still things that we need to know for example how to fact-check a video. I learnt how to fact-check photos and tweets and this was very helpful because as journalists we get exposed to many fake news, pictures, and tweets, but thanks to the workshop we have the skill needed to verify fake pictures and tweets.”

Hana Nakhal, Journalist, News Arab Participated in the Media Information Literacy and Fact-Checking workshop

“The experience was great and the workshop was useful because usually when covering refugee related issues, you find many refugees gathered in a small area so it was very important to learn the procedures that we as journalists need to take when covering in such circumstances. Also, taking into consideration that many people do not believe that corona actually exists, the workshop helped me with dealing with this issue, I learnt how to address people with such a mentality and convince them with what I’m saying?”

Hiba Yassine, Journalist, Campji – Participated in the Workshop on Health Coverage for Refugees