Saturday, December 31, 2005

Iranian women NGOs making a difference in Iran

Iranian women NGOs making a difference in Iran
By Syma Sayyah, Tehran
Many people talk about things that cannot be done here in Iran; here and in the next few pieces I shall be telling you some short stories about work and projects that are happening or being done successfully, sometimes modestly and sometimes on a grand scale.
Most of these projects have one thing in common, they are instigated, run and managed by women who, quietly and without much fuss, and without the need to be appreciated or admired, carry on doing what they believe is right.
Not only they devote their time, energy and financial resources but they are the main source of encouragement to others. The successful ones have a well defined limited agenda so they don't go wasting resources and energy. They stick to their core mission and with great vision do the hard work without expecting any rewards.
In the past five years, I have become familiar with these women groups, and I have learned to admire and respect their endless zest, enthusiasm and effort towards attaining a better Iran for all.
Some of these NGO's are small independent groups of women whose main aim is to train and help women, especially those who are the head of a family, to learn a trade or to utilize the things they know into marketable goods and services.
One notable organization in this category is Green Outlook Supporters who have set up women employment houses, one in Naser Khosrow[1] and one in Kianshahr, members of which have now become independent and earnest workers for a better future for themselves and their families.
I have a few pictures for you from the opening of the women employment house in Naser Khosrow, a while back, to which I was invited.
Not that long ago I went to one of the bazaars which were held to market the products of these empowered women groups. The event was held at the hall of one of the many high rise buildings to the West of Tehran. There one could find dried fruits, dried greens, onions and garlic for cooking purposes, handicrafts, bedding materials, and also T-shirts with a "women=men" motif etc. What took my notice in particular was a stall selling dolls for educational purposes, some male and female dolls which show their body parts to make things simple for young children to understand and others which represent characters in a story. I was told that they have been able to export many of these dolls to Europe, which is good for the country as well as for the ladies who make them. What I love about these bazaars most is that the prevailing enthusiasm is unbelievable and spirit is always very high.
The groups that organize the bazaar include the Green Outlook Supporters, Green Women in Iran, Green Well Wishers Women, Shaheds Blooms in Shekofehaye Shahed, Parsianama, Local Kitchen 13 Aban in Ray City, Women Employment Houses in Naser Khosrow and in Kianshahr and the Women and Environment Cooperative Network.
[1] This Employment house is in one of the oldest Tehran houses from the beginning of the 20th century, the Ghajar Period, and the entrance hall and some of the windows are beautiful what catches ones breath is the Room of Mirrors which is simply marvelous.

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