In January 2020, UNDP and Kurdistan Human Rights Watch (KHRW) collaborated to train sixty women on sewing and tailoring in Ninewa over the course of a ten-day workshop. At the time, these women could not have foreseen how their newly developed skills would contribute to combatting the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic currently sweeping the globe.
As of 25 March 2020, the World Health Organization has tracked over 400, 000 cases of COVID-19 with over 18, 000 confirmed deaths. The pandemic has affected 197 countries, areas, and territories, including Iraq. When a pharmaceutical company contracted by the Ninewa Department of Health was tasked with producing five million disposable face masks in response to the spread of COVID-19, thirty of the recently trained women were employed to use their skills to produce the masks. After briefings on the health standards and nature of the environment required for mask production, the seamstresses began creating thousands of masks daily in controlled conditions.
Working swiftly to produce this vital personal protection equipment despite the curfew in Ninewa Governorate, these skilled women are directly contributing to the mitigation of COVID-19 in Iraq.
Aseel, 45, says, “We have produced thousands of pieces and the major portion is delivered to the Ninewa Health Department. Some other organizations are also receiving face masks from us and they distribute those free of cost in communities and camps.”