elbarlament "Writing for Life"-Project for Women in Iraq

elbarlament Storytelling Project “Writing for Life”

Writing workshops for Iraqi Women

Territorial and social divisions, inter-ethnic conflicts and tribal structures - Iraq is considered an unstable state in many regards. Women in particular suffer from extreme injustice. Their everyday life is marked by violence and restrictions. The project “Writing for Life - Writing Workshops for Women”by the Berlin-based NGO elbarlement strengthens the role of women writers in Iraq and at the same time offers them a platform for exchanging and creatively processing their experiences.

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Writing training in Erbil

Raising the voice of women authors in Iraq

Even today, it is still not possible for the majority of women in Iraq to live self-determined lives - oppression, restrictions and prohibitions determine their everyday lives. An additional threat emanates specifically from the IS: Forced marriages, rape and slavery of women were part of the domestic terror. The conditions marked by violence almost completely paralyse artistic creation in Iraq, which historically has a rich treasure trove of literature and poetry.

In the “Writing for Life” workshops, Iraqi women are encouraged to write - the self-confidence they have gained in this way is propagated in the family and social environment of the participants and should also encourage other women to express their thoughts and deal creatively with traumas. A further, overarching goal was to increase the proportion of female voices in the Iraqi literary scene.

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Street scene from Erbil at dusk

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Participants report on the project on the Bookfair in Erbil

In a series of writing workshops in Iraq, experienced female authors and beginners developed their writing skills - they practised in various genres such as poetry, prose and journalistic texts. The participants learned to express themselves better and to express their experiences in a productive and creative way. The work in the writing workshops encouraged them to publish their texts and brought them into dialogue with each other, with the workshop leaders and with other writers. Many of the participants report that their participation helped them to gain more personal self-confidence and acceptance in the Iraqi authors’ community.

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Documenting the inspiring project with Video and Photography

Documenting the success story

The multimedia, visual storytelling project aimed to make the writing workshops better known - in Germany, but also locally in Iraq. Fabian Brandt travelled to Iraq for the storytelling project in April 2017. Further photos and film footage were taken in Frankfurt when the participants came to Germany on a study trip.

Concept, script editing, film & photography: Marie Bertsch and Fabian Brandt

Video editing: Jannik Frank