Breaking Boundaries: Women’s Magazine in Iraqi Kurdistan
By Kate Roff
The Kurdistan Region’s first mainstream magazine for women, Zhin, with an online version in Arabic titled Iraqiyat, is making strides in an otherwise difficult area for both the media industry and women’s rights.
The magazine employs an all-female staff, and is supported by global organisation International Media Support. The magazine produces a wide range of stories, from the latest trends in fashion to women re-entering society after Islamic State kidnappings.
“People are tired of only hearing about the miserable parts of women’s lives. They want to read about those who succeed,” said Ala Lattif, editor of Zhin.
In addition to promoting female success stories, Zhin portrays the devastating reality many women in the area face as a result of Islamic State’s advance in Iraq and Syria. In its first edition, the magazine presented a story on women who had escaped from IS captivity.
International Women’s Day was marked by the magazine with a photo shoot of five female refugees, highlighting how they are women, students, workers and sisters first — refugees second.
The women behind the magazine emphasise that that aim is to make a change in their society, but without forcing their ideals upon their readers.
“It is about time there is a truly independent magazine for women,” said Ms Latif.
Garam Dexter, a legal consultant at the World Bank Group said that women's participation has a flow-on effect in economic stability and, ultimately, and peace-building processes.
"Gender equality is smart economics; empowering women and granting them equal opportunities to participate in the economy is a main driver in reducing poverty," Ms Dexter told Peace News.
"Many studies demonstrate that women in leadership positions have a noticeable impact on peace negotiations," she said.
Zhin's editors argue that the change for women in their society needs to be a top-down approach, and they are certainly leading by example.
“When I chose to become a journalist, I wanted to work for the women in my society. People say that journalism is a man’s job, because men can do everything. We’ve been taught to think that female journalists can’t,” said Ms Lattif.