The Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) launched our EU project in November 2018. One of the main goals of this project was to develop networks of scholars, staff, and administrators in order to advance gender studies in the KRG, Iraq, and the MENA region.
To develop the network, raise awareness about our EU project, and rally support, we visited several institutions. In November 2018, Dr. Choman Hardi and Dr. Lynn Rose, Director and Deputy Director of CGDS respectively, traveled to Cairo, and met with Dr. Martina Rieker, Director of the Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies, American University of Cairo, and Dr. Jasmin Mahmoud Fouad, Coordinator of the Gender and Development Professional Master Program at Cairo University.
In February 2019, Dr. Choman traveled to Beirut to meet with Roula Wehbe Abbas, EU Program Manager for Civil Society; Connie Christiansen, Associate Professor of Gender Studies at the Lebanese American University; and Joanna Fayad, Gender Integration Specialist at the Lebanese American University. At the American University of Beirut, she met with Drs. Kathryn Maude and Sara Mourad, coordinators of the AUB Women and Gender Studies Program.
CGDS has also been involved in furthering the ministerial call for gender studies education to be developed in the KRG. In March 2019, CGDS initiated and facilitated a one day training workshop for the KRG gender studies centers. The workshop was coordinated and hosted by the KRG Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Affairs (MoHE) in collaboration with the High Council of Women’s Affairs. Representatives of 29 centers in Kurdistan universities participated in this training, held in the Conference Hall of MoHE in Erbil. We also presented a workshop in April 2019,“The Gender Dimension: Feminist Scholarship” at the University of Kufa in Najaf, Iraq.
In July 2019, CGDS visited Cihan University Sulimaniya, which hosted a forum for universities and NGOs to discuss implementing the MoHE decree. In December 2019, Charmo University in Chamchamal hosted a workshop to discuss the mandate and structure of the gender studies centers, in which CGDS members shared their experience of setting up our center from scratch. Also in December 2019, the CGDS team participated in the annual conference for the gender canters in Kurdistan, organized by the KRG High Council of Women’s Affairs and the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Affairs.
The CGDS team reached out to the highest KRG officials, including the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Affairs. In October 2018, we met with His Excellency the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Dr. Yusif Goran to discuss his decree. We followed up a year later, in October 2019, when His Excellency Dr. Aram Mohammed, the new Minister, welcomed us in his offices in Erbil.
CGDS has also reached out to universities in the KRG. In February 2019, Dr. Choman Hardi and CGDS coordinator Arez Essa met with Dr. Salah Reza Said, President of Charmo University. In February 2020, Dr. Choman Hardi and Administrative Assistant Sewe Anwar met Dr. Mhabad Kamil, the President of the University of Halabja, and Dr. Hataw Hamasalih, Director of Center for Gender Equality at Halabja University, Ms. Gulstan Ahmad, Director of Human Rights Office in Halabja, and Ms. Kurda Bapir, Social Worker at Shahid Abdulrahman Secondary School.
Every academic, official, and administrator has welcomed the news of our EU funding. Without exception, they have not only shown their interest, but also demonstrated their willingness to support the project.