By John Lee.
Under the management of the US Consulate General in Erbil, the START Social Development Organisation concluded a five-month pilot programme established to empower women and provide key skills.
The Kurdistan Economic Enhancement-skills Programme (KEEP) is funded by the US Department of State and is currently available in the rest of the country. This pilot programme for the Kurdistan Region began five months ago.
Participating in the graduation ceremony, Minister Falah Mustafa, the KRG's Head of Foreign Relations, commended the US Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil for managing and sponsoring the initiative and praised the local NGO for the implementation.
He said, "In the past we have launched initiatives promoting women rights, and today we work to defend and further their role and participation in society.”
The programme comprises two modules - language and basic computer skills. The 67 participants graduating from this pilot course come from various ethnic, religious and social backgrounds.
"The participants of this programme are a reflection of our policies and the tolerance of our region. You have started a good initiative and I call upon you to keep up these efforts,” Minister Mustafa added.
The Kurdistan-based NGO START Social Development Organisation has been partnering with the Mar Qardakh School to provide a venue for the project. A representative from START said, "Today you should be proud of yourself for your dedication to the programme. This programme equips you with tools to reach your current goals, and reach higher goals for the future.”
The US Consulate General in Erbil has been closely evaluating the project. The acting Consul General, Mr Tim Pounds, also participated in the graduation ceremony. He said, "The KEEP initiative is just one effort by our government to bring greater prosperity for Iraqis overall."
Addressing the teachers, he said, "Without you, your commitment, energy and dedication, this programme would not have been a success."
The KRG Minister of Transport and Communications, Mr Jonson Siyaoosh, local representatives and civil society groups also participated in the event.