Three months ago I decided to leave United Kingdom for Kurdistan. The trip opened my eyes to the socioeconomic problems facing Kurdish people, and the renowned efforts by young activists to ameliorate the situation. Kurdistan has become a part of me, as much as I have become part of it. Within three months I learned about some of the concerns of young people, poor and those within the working sector. It was exciting to interview officials, locals and activists. Inevitably they helped shape my understanding of what the Kurdistan Regional Government has done, and the political fiasco that is apparent in the different colour coordinated offices of various political parties and strongholds throughout Kurdistan.
Freedom of press is an integral part of any meaningful democracy. The Kurdistan Regional Government has positioned itself in Middle east as a diminutive bearer of democracy. In doing so, they have tried to conceal their shortcomings, but unfortunately the constant and continuing limits placed on journalists gives them a poor image internationally. In the current political rift, utmost attention ought to be given to the institutions which have attempted to curtail freedom of press.
In the beginning of my trip I was committed to raising awareness about a children's benefit system, similar to child benefit in most European countries. Through this benefit system, poorer families could make sure their children attend schools and have access to the basic necessities necessary for them to complete their education. I met the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Asos Najeeb Abdullah who turned this idea down. She believed the government already gives out sufficient benefits, and therefore this additional benefit initiative would have an impact on the budget, which is already a contentious issue. At first instance some might agree with this, but if we take a closer look at the benefits given to people, we will realise they are not on a regular monthly basis but rather given within a 3-6 months period. For example benefits available for widows without other sources of income are given every 3 months and under $100.
After a few weeks I turned from an optimistic and adventurous person who woke up early to knock on different houses for new signatures that would eventually be used to support the 'Kurdistan Child Benefit Initiative' into someone who was overtly angered by the lack of enthusiasm for positive change. We can strive for change in different ways, some people work through the current government, others try to work against it, and what matters is the result of the initiatives ventured.
I believe Kurdistan is progressing at a fast pace, but it has potential to be better and greater by creating a social system where individuals can be held accountable for negligence. Through creating an accountable government, we can eventually have accountable institutions where the rights of citizens are enshrined.
My three month trip was enjoyable, and now that I'm back in London, it feels like the changes that I can be part of in Kurdistan are nonexistent here.
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