The key is in our hands…
Four years has passed by since I first set foot on Kurdish soil from a decade of life in exile, and still I am asked two staggering questions: “why would you come back here” and of course “so where do you like more, here or there”.
My answers are almost always the same, and I often understand the reason why people ask these questions. Sometimes as I answer they raise their eye-brows, I can read between their eyes “she’s so naive” is what is going through their head (but that does not bother me). What bothers me the most is when people pre-judge our Kurdish nation with lack of knowledge.
Recently I received an E-mail from an old teacher of mine; I guess from her love and pure care for me, she wrote “I can imagine for a girl like yourself, life is difficult where you are”… excuse me?
There are many things that separate Kurdistan from the European and the developed countries around the word. But believe it or not, life back home, for a Kurdish girl, is not as bad as you may imagine.
In any part of the world what would a girl want?- some freedom, rights- to study, work and earn her income, privileges like her male counterpart and respect. More importantly any girl would want to fulfill her dreams and ambitions in life.
Four years back the numbers of female drives on the roads in Erbil were enough to be counted by fingers. Now, if there is a working car at home then it is all about getting the license before sitting behind the wheel (this is the case with girls in many households).
When girls could not visit the local bazar comfortably because of the staring eyes, like they are aliens from outer space, today malls and shopping centers allows young girls to ‘shop till they drop’ with their friends without a male family member acting as a body guard.
Kurdish girls participate in workshops to raise their awareness and become active youth in their communities.
At a time where there was no place to go but the neighbor’s house for a cup of tea, today Kurdish girls go out for lunch and dinner in restaurants with their friends for a ‘chit-chat’ or go to theme parks with rides, sit in coffee shops and even go swimming or to the gym.
For girls who want to study and succeed in their lives, whilst our education system is not the best in the world, but every girl has the right to continue her education at university level and even continue to a postgraduate degree if she desires (with good marks of course!).
My closest female friends have succeeded in their careers in Kurdistan. I have female friends, who are deputy editors of newspapers, who present television shows, who are interpreters, secretary to ministers and General Directors. There are people I know who are directors and managers of an NGO, people running for parliament, others writing books, playing sport and few who are following their ambitions in the world of art and painting.
Pic: A Kurdish girl learns to play 'ping-pong' in the games room in Uni.
A female student I know runs an entire radio station, another friend is a police woman, and the other is a first place champion in taekwondo. The point is, if there is girl with a dream, in Kurdistan the door does not close and the path is never lost.
True, at times it is difficult to persuade others that you are capable of the job, but once you prove your potentials then there is no force in the world to prevent you from reaching your dreams, and doing the things you love the most.
The misunderstanding about Kurdish girls is unfortunately shown to the world through a media that only focuses on the negative aspects of anything. These days if it is good news then it is no news at all. I wish people could see the other life that we Kurdish girls have in the main provinces.
Pic: Kurdish girls shine with beauty & full of dreams and potantials.
I have worked in the newspaper for over three years now, in the Kurdish Globe I am the only girl when we go to the office-- aside from the editor herself-- and there has never been a time when I have been mistreated, taken advantage of or heard hurtful remarks from anyone. We have our arguments about women’s rights, religion and politics but being a girl has never affected the job that I do. This is what I want the rest of the world to realize!