IOM, Finland to support local economic recovery for women and conflict-affected populations in Iraq
Baghdad – In the face of Iraq’s deepening financial crisis, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq and the Government of Finland launched a EUR 2,000,000 project to support displacement-affected individuals whose businesses were destroyed or severely damaged by the conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Among internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and host communities across the country, the project will pay particular attention to women and other marginalized groups that face disproportionate barriers accessing the labour market.
Already a significant concern in conflict- and displacement-affected areas struggling to bounce back from the ISIL conflict, livelihoods have emerged as a main factor impeding the return of IDPs to their areas of origin due to the combined effects of a recent drop in oil revenues and the lingering impact of COVID-19 restrictions. In Iraq’s south, agricultural livelihoods are increasingly devastated by water scarcity, contributing to a rise in displacement from rural to urban areas.
“Supporting businesses and livelihood opportunities is of critical importance to responding to the needs of IDPs, returnees and host community members,” said Chief of Mission for IOM in Iraq, Mr. Giorgi Gigauri. “With the generous support of the Government of Finland, IOM will work to help mitigate this key barrier to return in order to foster conditions that enable durable solutions for displacement-affected persons – particularly women and other economically-vulnerable groups.”
“Private sector plays an important role in promoting women’s economic empowerment and creating jobs,” stated Finnish Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Matti Lassila. “One key goal of Finland’s development policy is to improve the access of women entrepreneurs to finance. Through the IOM’s EDF-Women approach, women-led businesses will have access to grants as well as customized support services needed to run successful businesses.”
Indeed, the project will support economic recovery and women’s empowerment in the labour force by targeting women business owners and businesses where the majority of the workforce is made up of women to enable business recovery and job creation. Grants will be provided to start-ups and early-stage businesses, and owners of small and medium-sized enterprises will have access to capacity-building and business development services and trainings in areas such as bookkeeping, marketing and savings management. This approach is informed by continued evaluations and research on women’s participation in Iraq’s workforce and key economic sectors.
IOM Iraq will implement this project in Basra, Dohuk, Erbil, Ninewa, Sulaymaniyah and Thi Qar governorates, working closely with local authorities and community members throughout every stage of the project implementation, from needs identification to final hand-over.