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Promoting Local Economic Development in Sheikhan District through Development and Empowerment of Women

Sheikhan District is in the Nineveh Governorate and bordered by the Amadiya and Dahuk Districts of the Dohuk Governorate to the north, the Akre District to the east, Al-Hamdaniya District to the south, and the Tel Kaif District to the west.
This district is considered one of the most vulnerable areas in Iraq. In mid-2014, the countrywide economic crisis had a significant impact on the situation of the community. Although a good number of residents work in the public sector, the income is limited and insufficient to meet the demands of people. As of 2016, the Sheikhan district had the highest rate (43%) of households that experienced a salary reduction or job loss due to the financial crisis in the Duhok governorate. Other sources of income for the local people are the private sector, which faces several obstacles, including competition and the people’s limited purchasing power.
One of the main reasons for developing the local economy in Sheikhan is its status as a disputed territory. This affects the local entrepreneur from investing in the area, and the tribal nature of Sheikhan deters investors from outside of the district and impedes economic development. Accordingly, this district has been struggling to accommodate the large number of graduates that cannot find job opportunities matching their qualifications.
Based on the initial discussion, MASAR-PCPM staff held meetings with the local government in the Sheikhan district; women's economic empowerment was considered necessary and a potential contribution to the local economic development. In addition, improving women's capacity, especially at the economic level, is expected to help reduce the vast gender inequality in this tribal community. This project was identified by PCPM and funded by the MASAR program. The partnership of PCPM has implemented the project, Kurdistan’s High Council of Women and Development (based in Erbil), Directorate General of Care and Social Development (DGoCSD) in Duhok Governorate with its sub- office (Department of Care and Social Development “DoCSD”) in Sheikhan District, and the Sheikhan District Mayoralty.
These procedures were taken to achieve implement the project: a total of 138 applications were received with the support of DoCSD Sheikhan to join the Business Start-up (BSU) project, where a joint meeting was held with community leaders (Mukhtars of Sheikhan town neighbourhoods) to confirm some basic data about the applicants, especially in terms of residency address and economic vulnerability, follow-up phone calls (interviews) were made by PCPM team with the applicants to obtain any missing information and confirm the presented information. A joint committee convened and short-listed applications to 49 based on pre-identified and determined criteria; the list was further shortened, and 40 women were selected.
After confirming the beneficiaries, a 10-day training of BSU for women in Sheikhan town was conducted to provide the 40 women entrepreneurs with the necessary knowledge and skills related to small business start-ups and management. Following that, the 40 trained women were supported to submit business proposals using the knowledge and skills they gained during the BSU training. They followed the developed proposal template developed by PCPM in coordination with the two trainers.
30 women submitted business proposals for further support (2 women submitted 1 bid). The joint committee reviewed and scored the recommendations based on specific criteria; accordingly, 18 proposals belonging to 19 women (7 HC and 12 IDPs) were selected for further support. After choosing the successful businesses, several meetings were held with the successful women entrepreneurs (19) to review the list of the requested business materials, update them on the progress in the materials supply, and collect the documents needed for the business registration.
Supply of seven of the 18 businesses was accomplished in August 2022, after their legal registration.

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