Valuing Women in the Global Marketplace

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by Zayneb Mahdi


Networking. Few things will help you establish and grow your business faster than creating a strong network. With Nina, you have a headstart. We have two pages devoted to meeting women just like you from across Iraq, as well as globally. By registering on our website, you can showcase your business to the world.

WEConnect and Inclusive Supply Chains: Buying for impact, a perspective from Accenture’s Zayneb Mahdi.

Iraq is a place that is extremely close to my heart and will continue to be so for the rest of my life. I was born in Iraq, as were most of my family, and had it not been for the first Gulf War, I would probably still be living there today.

The reality is, I left when I was three years old; we had endured much of the first Gulf War before my parents took the courageous decision to leave. My life today seems worlds apart from the war – stricken country that we left – I live in the suburbs of London and work for Accenture, a management consulting firm. It was through my family and my work that I was introduced to Nina, and immediately knew that I wanted to be involved in whatever way I could.

Nina, in my opinion, is not just a magazine that you pick up and read, then put down and forget. It provides an opportunity for Iraqi women to unite, to have a voice, to be hopeful and ultimately, to become empowered. This article focuses on the economic empowerment of women, as achieved through the participation of women in the global marketplace.

Women currently represent 50% of the world’s population, but they are almost invisible in global value chains. Although they are taking action to address this, large corporations and governments direct only 1% of their overall procurement spend to businesses owned by women. This is a sad reality that we live in, but one that I hope to have some influence in changing by introducing WEConnect International, a network that promotes women’s economic empowerment and could help you. WEConnect’s mission is to ‘Help women-owned businesses to succeed in global value chains’. This global non-profit organization identifies, educates, registers, and certifies women’s business enterprises based outside the US that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by one or more women and then connects them with multinational corporate buyers.


“Access to economic self-sufficiency and sustainable livelihoods promotes the vitality and resilience of individuals, families and communities worldwide – as well as stimulating innovation and improved choice in the global marketplace. Through Accenture’s Skills to Succeed and Supplier Inclusion & Diversity initiatives, we collaborate with partner organizations such as WEConnect International to generate employment, entrepreneurship and market linkage opportunities – in order to drive socio- economic advancement in both emerging and mature markets.”
Jill Huntley, Global Director Corporate Citizenship, Accenture

Accenture is a co-founder of WEConnect International and actively engages in the WEConnect network in 12 countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and the Americas. By diversifying global supply chains to better reflect the world we serve, Accenture creates increasing value for our clients and the communities in which we live and work. Through key stakeholder groups working together to participate in and strengthen networks that help female entrepreneurs integrate into the local and global marketplace, we will not only empower women in Iraq, but strengthen the economy and the nation. If you meet the criteria, register your business now with WEConnect International through their e-network. You and your service and product offerings will then be visible to buyers both in Iraq and across the world!

Meet two groups of Kurdish Businesswomen

Nina Magazine in Erbil

Nina Magazine in Erbil

The Nina team were delighted to meet with two groups of Kurdish business women on a recent trip. The Association of Businesswomen is based in Erbil and headed by Farda Pasha. The Businesswomen Association for Development and Investment in Kurdistan is based in Sulaimaniyah and headed by Fatin Rashid.

The Association of Kurdish Businesswomen was established in 2014 and the association has many members. Currently, only 20% of female graduates are joining the private sector. This is a figure the association wants to change. The idea for establishing the association came after a group of Kurdish businesswomen attended a business conference in the Gulf state of Qatar.

Says founding member Farda: “We seek through this Association to develop and strengthen women, activating their role in the process of reconstruction, and increase their number in the private sector.”

The Business Women Association for Development and Investment obtained its legal registration from the Ministry of Interior in Sulaimaniyah Administration on April 24th 2005.

Fatin, an award-winning engineer, tells us a bit about their background. “Women had no information about their rights and how to achieve these rights. In fact, women were economically invisible, because their wealth was either used by men or not invested in the market. Our main goal is to support all Kurdish businesswomen. It is important for women’s organizations across the world to connect. This increases and improves skills and can be supported in different ways, such as training courses, workshops, conferences and exhibitions across countries.”

Fatin can be contacted on, the Association of Kurdish Businesswomen on

Hello from Sweden

“As an organizer of a women’s business network in Sweden, as well as a member of the Iraqi diaspora, I am delighted to be involved in this first issue of Nina. There are many benefits to a magazine and website designed to open the doors to new markets for Swedish products and services in Iraq. Iraq is an oil-rich country and welcomes inward trade and investment. However, it also has challenges in terms of environmental policies.

A mobilized Iraqi female diaspora can help work within this, supporting investment in green technology and infrastructure projects around water and waste treatment, for example. I personally believe that Nina is an important way to develop opportunity and dialogue. So, whether you are from Iraq or Sweden, please get in touch with me directly or through the Nina website, and let’s create new opportunities and networks together!”
Nigar Ibrahim

Nigar Ibrahim is the facilitator and central contact for the Women’s Human Rights Network in Gothenburg, Sweden. You can reach her on

Hello from the UK

Nina support in Sweden

Nina support in Sweden

“As President of the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs I firmly believe in the power of networks. We would love to hear from Iraqi businesswomen keen to connect with women business-owners in the UK. We live in a globally connected world; the power of this connection ensures economic growth for all those brave enough to connect and look for international markets.” Deb Leary

You can get in touch with BAWE through their website,

And Finally…. Connecting the Diaspora Returners

Shobo Shali, advisor to the Kurdish government and wife of Iraqi parliamentary candidate Dr Salman Shali, is keen to set up a new kind of association in Iraq.

“We lived in the US for many years, my husband, two daughters and I. We came back because we are Iraqi. We want to contribute to the future of Kurdistan and Iraq as a whole. It hasn’t been easy, though. I myself have felt unwanted at times, a guest in a society that is afraid of what I represent as a returning member of the diaspora. I have also truggled to integrate back into what I took for granted in the US – uniform education and healthcare. I love being back, but sometimes it is hard. I would like to use Nina to start a group for other returners. If you are interested in connecting, sharing experience, strength, hope and stories, please get in touch with me at I look forward to hearing from you!”

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