Zrebar Hawrami: Kurdistan’s Military Atelier

I just saw this article on Al Jazeera and thought it was an incredible insight into the region, and especially women, outside the battlefields. The story and video describe how as more and more Kurdish fighters join the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in northern Iraq, there has been an increase in the demand for military uniforms.

Zrebar Hawrami

Simultaneously, Kurdistan is battling an economic crisis and the government is unable to provide more than one uniform per soldier. Cue Zrebar Hawrami who spotted an opportunity to serve her country.

The 23-year-old quit her job as a news presenter, sold her car and borrowed money from her father to open a war-clothing workshop under her own name.

Hawrami is the first woman in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq to own such a business.

“It seems circumstances and destiny have played a role in my life and kind of forced me to open such a business,” she told Al Jazeera.

By importing the fabric and making the uniforms locally, she says she is selling them about $20 cheaper than the imported ones sold in the market.

For Hawrami, each stitch of the military uniforms is the result of a dream and nationalistic pride.

Determined to empower women through her work, she has chosen a Yazidi woman warrior to be her business logo.

“Sexism is not an issue,” Hawrami said.

“Once the businessmen heard of my project, they encouraged me because I produce cheaper but high-quality clothes.”

Zrebar makes 21 types of uniforms not only for Kurdish forces in Iraq but also in Syria.

The company, which also stitches women’s army uniforms, is branching out and making military fashion apparel.

Gains on the battlefield are a triumph for Hawrami and her employees.

“As the victories of the Kurdish forces continue, we feel more enthusiastic to continue working,” says Kalawish Abbasi, a Zrebar employee.

Article originally appeared in Al Jazeera

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