Thursday, July 16, 2015
“Media brings everyone together. Media is a tool people won’t reject easily. It’s a tool to get more knowledge and solutions, to get your word out”, says Bushra Al Ameen. She is the co-founder and executive director of Bo Peshewa, an Iraqi NGO focusing on women's rights and information sharing, partner of Free Press Unlimited.

Recently relocated to Erbil from Baghdad due to security issues, Bo Peshewa is now in the process of setting up a new safe online radio space, called Takalami (Speak Out!) where women can share their experiences. It is part of Free Press Unlimited's Mrs. project (see below).

“Radio is an important tool to rebuild Iraq. Through our radio live programs we have gained a lot of information on society and women's needs. Moreover, through these programs women can voice their needs and opinions. Sharing experiences is very important, especially in the rural areas, since it connects women working at home. ”

Violence as a part of life

Bushra tells about how her current radio station Al Mahaba is broadcasting in Bagdad, potentially reaching a population of 10 million in Bagdad and surrounding. According to Bushra, the current problem in Iraq lies within the youth. “Youth are the future of the country, but there are several problems. Sadly, violence has become a part of life. This is visible in how kids treat animals when playing in the streets. They don’t pet them; they torture them. And there is no one that corrects them. Moreover, education has deteriorated tremendously and in Iraq we now have “illiterate graduates”. They hardly know how to write or read or to think critically.”

 

Infinite hope

After 2003, woman's rights deteriorated, following different wars and international sanctions against Iraq. In rural areas, women cannot attend school any longer. There are increasingly child marriages. In schools girls are required to wear head scarfs. Men forbid male doctors to treat their women. Despite all of this, Bushra has hope for the future: “I have infinite hope. There are good Iraqi's who will always help. And then of course there is my work and all its results, namely the women I gave advice and helped to improve their lives. That's priceless.”

The Mrs. project is a new program of Free Press Unlimited in which secured online platforms are created for female voices in the Middle East. Free Press Unlimited is currently setting up a program in Turkey and Iraq. The Mrs. project is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.