The cultural centre in Hilla organises activities and workshops that allow women to express their talents in the field of literature.
In the city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, young women have come together to form a new women’s organisation for the promotion of creativity through literature, arts and culture. The organisation, called the Ishtar Club, encourages women to be creative and gives the women of Hilla a platform to share their creations.
“The club invites creative women who are not socially active and are fearful of demonstrating their creativity,” said Weam al-Moussawi, a member of the Ishtar Club. “The club is always open to all creative women.”
Regular cultural evenings are organised by the club, during which poets and authors come together to share their creative writing. Civil activists and human rights advocates who promote women’s rights in Iraq also attend the meetings.
“We have many creative women in the fields of poetry, folk poetry, short stories and articles,” said Alaa Abdul Hassan, a Hilla based civil rights activist.
In addition to providing young women with an audience for their creative writing, the club regularly invites guest poets and writers to read to the club’s members. On Saturday, locally renowned Hilla poet, Mowaffaq Mohammed, spoke to the club about his writing experience before reciting one of his poems.
The Ishtar Club is one of a number of initiatives that have been set up to empower women in Iraq. In Baghdad, the Ladies of Baghdad Forum recently hosted its first event under the slogan I am a woman, I am proud. In northern Iraq, a similar event called the Empower and Consult workshop was set up under the auspices of the United Nations.
The main agenda of both events was to raise the issue of women’s rights and equality in Iraq and highlight the problems that many women face. Traditional attitudes towards women still prevails in much of Iraq, which can limit the degree of education women receive and stigmatises those who seek a career.