Giving Compass' Take:

• Helen Lock speaks with frontline worker Shan Sherwan Hussein about coronavirus' influence on the state of gender equality in Iraq.

• What can we do to support movements for global equality during coronavirus?

• Learn more about supporting nonprofits like those advocating for gender equality in Iraq.

On a normal day, Shan Sherwan Hussein can be found delivering essential classes to women who have been internally-displaced from their homes in Iraq, or who are refugees as a result of the conflict in neighboring Syria.

She works for the NGO Women for Women International and her focus is on empowering women, both socially and economically, by providing numeracy and business classes, and start-up advice to those setting up their own businesses, among other programs.

But her work as women’s economic empowerment manager has, like many jobs, been transformed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. She tells Global Citizen what it’s like to be on the frontlines during this crisis and how it has affected the women she works with.

“I work in the Kurdistan region of Iraq where about 250,000 Syrian refugees live, along with about 1.5 million Iraqi people who have been displaced due to conflict,” Hussein explains, adding that together these groups make up 25% of the population of the region.

One of the goals of the program is to teach the participants a marketable skill, so that they are ready to start a small business when they graduate. The idea is, with time, they will contribute to the household income, ideally ensuring the whole family is in a less precarious position.

“For communities that are already experiencing crisis and economic insecurity, this pandemic will increase their hardship and suffering,” she says. “Restrictions on movement, services, and economic activities will hit them, because they don’t have safety nets to fall back on.”

Hussein is hoping the women she works with are not forgotten about in the aftermath.

She adds; “Humanitarian and development work is needed more than ever to sustain lives and livelihoods and help the most vulnerable communities rebuild from this crisis.”

Read the full article about coronavirus' impact on gender equality in Iraq by Helen Lock at Global Citizen.