Women banned from leaving their homes or working by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) have been returning to the workforce in Anbar in large numbers since the group was ousted from their areas, local officials said.
"The situation has changed for the better since the liberation of Anbar areas from ISIS," Anbar provincial council education committee chairwoman Ibtissam Mohammed Darb told Diyaruna.
"Today, the women of Anbar work in various professions and occupations," she said, which include running or working at clothing, luggage or perfume shops, beauty salons and wedding decoration or sewing workshops.
Anbar women also hold government jobs in the health, education, agriculture and veterinary services departments, she added.
"Anbar women work in many fields," said Anbar women's rights activist Sarah Ali. "Some work in sewing workshops and others in shops and malls, while others work at home doing embroidery or preparing dishes they sell to shops."
Now that the security situation in Anbar has stabilised, some young women have been starting small businesses such as kindergartens, she told Diyaruna.
Work leads to a 'dignified life'
"Work in women-only shops seems strange to some people, but it is welcome in areas that were devastated and destroyed and whose residents were displaced," Ramadi clothing shop owner Hadeer al-Mohammadi told Diyaruna.
"My work in this shop starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m," she said. "I am paid a salary of 400,000 Iraqi dinars ($340), a modest amount, but it helps me live a dignified life with my three children, as my husband died almost five years ago."
"We hope the government and concerned agencies will support women by providing them with job opportunities based on their specialisation and expertise," she said.
A large number of women have been widowed as a result of the fight against ISIS, al-Mohammadi said, adding that she hopes the government will offer stipends to these women and others facing difficult situations.
"Many of the problems women in Fallujah are facing were caused by ISIS," Fallujah resident Hanaa Matlab al-Shammari told Diyaruna, noting that many are now seeking work, especially with humanitarian organisations.
"I have been working for over a year with a humanitarian organisation called Yanabee al-Salam (Peace Springs) that operates in the Ameriyat al-Fallujah camp," she told Diyaruna.
"However, my work and that of 14 other women with me was suspended two days ago due to lack of financial support from the government and international organisations," she said.
There are many enterprises that could provide jobs for Anbar women, including jobs at sewing factories or those which manufacture sweets, al-Shammari said.
Women are capable of precise and proficient work in these fields, she said, which would help them earn decent incomes and cope with the current difficult circumstances.