Amina and Khawar Broke Stereotypes and Were Up to the Task

Amina Nuri and Khawar Muhammad    Photo: KirkukNow

Layla Ahmed – Garmiyan


With the first light of dawn, Amina leaves the house before the others and heads to the fruit and vegetable shop that she runs in the middle of the Kifri district market.

Amina has been running the shop for 27 years. She chose to live from her hard work and not beg for anything from anyone. “I was a young woman, and I was the first woman to start a business in the market. My family and relatives were surprised by this. The beginning was difficult. I endured a lot of offensive words and ridicule”, says Amina Nouri.

Amina challenged her family and the traditions of her society at the same time. She did not give up and continued on, until she forced everyone to respect her and they began to call her “The Amina of Kifri.”

"My husband was running the store. We did not have children. My husband died and I decided to take his place despite the many obstacles I faced. My brothers and sisters told me, 'Don't work, we will take care of you,' but I did not agree."

“In the past, it was shameful for a woman to work, but I broke that rule. Now everyone respects me.” Amina says that there is no difference between men and women. They must work without paying attention to obstacles.

Amina sells fruits and vegetables in her shop, along with some household supplies. “My work is exhausting, but I am proud of it.” Amina calls on women to stand on their feet and start their own businesses.

Kifri/ 2024/ Amina sells vegetables, fruits and some household needs in her shop. Photo: KirkukNow 

Amina lives in Kifri, a town built about two centuries ago. Kifri is considered one of the “disputed areas” within Diyala Governorate, but it is administratively affiliated with the Kurdistan Regional Government.

About 50 kilometers from Kifri, specifically in the village of Sayid Khalil in the district of Kalar, another woman known as Auntie Khawar tells another story of struggle and determination, after she chose years ago to take on the task of securing a living for her family from the shop she runs.

Auntie Khawar opened a store in her village, where 25 families live, she sells most of the village residents’ needs, including food, cleaning supplies, and more. Some of the shop’s customers are from neighboring villages.

Auntie Khawar is a mother of three children. Her husband is unable to work due to illness. Although their main source of livelihood was agriculture and livestock raising, she wanted to run a shop. Khawar recalled memories of 20 years ago and how the idea of ​​a business came to her mind, but she did not know how to start.

Kalar/ 2024/ Khawar Muhammad inside her shop in the village of Sayid Khalil. Photo: KirkukNow

At first, She went to the city market and started selling sweets and sunflower seeds she displayed on a small tray. She continued this work for five years, until she heard that there was a training program being organized in Kalar to help women manage independent businesses.

“I said to myself, ‘I must not miss this opportunity.’” Khawar says that she decided to participate despite the palce where the training program was far distant from her village. 

“In the training program, I learned how to run my own business. At the end of the course, they gave me six plastic chairs and 500,000 dinars. I used the money to open a shop in my village. I demolished the wall of the house’s courtyard, bought building supplies and built a small room that I called a shop,” Auntie Khawar told KirkukNow.

Khawar's road ahead was also not without bumps and obstacles, but her love for her work helped her move forward, to the point where she would walk a distance of 15 kilometers to buy items for her shop if she did not have a means of transportation.

Khawar is available in her shop most of the time, and sometimes her sons and daughters help her, because she sometimes has to take care of the livestock.

“I will not leave my job in the store as long as I live. My dream was to run my own business through which I would provide for my family.” Khawar Muhammad encourages women to rely on themselves and work side by side with men.

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