MLI has assisted hundreds of injured and vulnerable women in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, providing them with medical assistance and vocational training. Training in subjects like sewing, embroidery, poultry keeping, and beekeeping has enabled these women to pursue small-scale entrepreneurial activities and become more financially independent. Women suffering from long-term medical issues, such as the loss of a limb from a landmine, endure unique hardships, as compared to their male counterparts, including increased threats of violence. Their prospects for receiving an education, gaining employment, or marrying decrease dramatically after they have suffered a serious injury. MLI’s programs assist and empower these women and have been especially crucial for their reintegration into society.
Through the Women’s Empowerment program, MLI provides assistance to all vulnerable women who have suffered from conflict, helping them to rebuild their lives and their communities. In May 2017, MLI launched the project Network for the Economic Empowerment of Women in Iraq (NEW Iraq), in partnership with the AMAR Foundation, to empower female heads of household through a mentoring and employment training program.
As violent conflict persists in Iraq, women are facing increased financial responsibility due to the death or severe injury of the male provider in their household. The NEW Iraq project is designed to address this vulnerability by providing the women with skills that assist them in their ability to earn a living, and support themselves and their families. Specifically, it targeted women from Basra and Dhi Qar and provided them with professional training, internship opportunities, and mentoring, led by Iraqi businesswomen located locally and in the U.S., as well as an online portal for networking and ongoing learning. The trainees participated in a two-day Networking and Mentoring Skills Building Workshop, as well as monthly training and mentoring sessions in groups of ten with both the Iraqi and U.S.-based mentors. Child care, computer training, and English-language training were provided for trainees who were interested.
Through this holistic, robust, and sustainable mentoring network, more than 50 southern Iraqi women received professional development training and small grants for seed money to help them start their own business or gain employment to dramatically improve their ability to support themselves and their family members. Thanks to this project, the women are now starting businesses, to include opening small grocery stores, hair salons, sewing shops, and catering companies.