By Artin Barawi
On October 22 and October 29, the Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) at AUIS hosted a two-part diversity training workshop about privilege, power, and hierarchy. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Choman Hardi and Dr. Lynn Rose. The training equipped AUIS students to actively engage with and challenge social injustice by starting discussions about these issues in local high schools. Dr. Choman focused on gender inequality, social construction, and sexist language on the first day of the workshop, while Dr. Lynn focused on different kinds of discrimination against people with disabilities on the second day.
Speaking about her aims for the workshop, Dr. Choman said, “We, in AUIS, have many discussions that are not held elsewhere. We sort of live in a bubble. There are many ideas that are discussed and accepted here which could endanger people’s lives outside this place. We think it is important to take this conversation outside. We do not want to be an elitist bubble in a sea of traditional, conservative views, but we aim to engage the community. That is the role of universities generally; that they don't stick to themselves, they actually create ideas that go out to society, and hopefully this training will help towards that.”
Dr. Lynn had high hopes for the future regarding social equality in Kurdistan, stating, “I think it could start here in Kurdistan. Why not make this a huge center of change? I wouldn't be happy if it stayed here, but if it started in Kurdistan; if we became a hotbed of revolution for gender equity and accessibility and everything else that's good, why not? I think that would be good, and then we would spread out from there.”
A total of 30 students, many of them members of the Action Group (TAG), took part in the workshop and engaged in lively discussions and debates. The students were awarded certificates for completing the workshop. The trained group aims to give presentations in schools around Sulaimaniah in a bid to raise awareness among teenagers about social inequity in Kurdistan. The Center for Gender and Development Studies aims to repeat the training next semester to give more students the opportunity to learn and engage.