For northern Iraq, the Ba’athist rule of the country meant persecution, exile and war. Generations had grown up under these conditions and rarely attended school. The majority of the region’s population did not complete primary school. Nowadays, up to 46% of men in northern Iraq are illiterate. Illiteracy is even more widespread among women. Especially in rural regions, girls are still denied education. Education is essential for the development of a democratic society in northern Iraq. WADI’s literacy programs support this aim.
From 1993 to 1998, WADI ran a campaign against illiteracy in Suleymaniah and New Kirkuk Governorates. Specific literacy courses were developed in cooperation with local women’s organizations. The courses were organized in cities, collective towns and rural areas.
Local women’s organizations – at that time mostly linked to the two rival political parties – were encouraged to cooperate across party-lines and develop a common agenda. WADI took part in setting the Kurdistan-based network CRHA and provided the literacy courses with new schoolbooks and trainings for teachers. This programme was conducted in close cooperation with UNICEF and the Kurdish Ministry of Education.
Since the opening of the first of WADI’s women centers in 2003, literacy courses have been integrated into the activities of these centres. Today, literacy courses for women are provided in the women centres of Halabja, Byara (Hauraman), Kifri and Smut (Garmyan). After completing six literacy courses, women can register to the governmental final exam for a primary school diploma.