Sheikhan District lies in a disputed territory between the Federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. It borders the Amadiya and Duhok Districts to the north, the Akre District to the east, Al-Hamdaniya District to the south and the Tilkeif District to the west.
This district is considered one of the most vulnerable areas in Iraq. In mid-2014, the countrywide economic crisis had a significant impact on the community. Although the majority of residents work in the public sector, their income is limited and insufficient to meet their needs. In 2016, Sheikhan had the highest rate (43%) of households that experienced a salary reduction or job loss due to the financial crisis in the Duhok governorate. Also the private sector is a limited source of income due to the limited purchasing power of people in Sheikhan.
Sheikhan having the status of a disputed territory does not help the economy either as the local entrepreneurs are afraid of investing in the area. Also the tribal nature of Sheikhan deters investors from outside of the district, further impeding economic development. Accordingly, Sheikhan has been struggling to accommodate the large number of graduates who cannot find jobs matching their qualifications.
In discussions with the MASAR-PCPM team the local government in the Sheikhan district indicated women's economic empowerment as a priority for local economic development. In addition, improving women's capacity, especially at the economic level, helps reduce the vast gender inequality in this tribal community. The MASAR-PCPM team implemented this project in partnership with the Kurdistan’s High Council of Women and Development in Erbil, the Directorate General of Care and Social Development in Duhok Governorate with its sub-office in Sheikhan District and the Sheikhan District Mayoralty.
The project started with 138 applications, of which 40 women were selected and received a 10-day Business Start-Up Training. Following that, the 40 trained women were supported to submit business proposals using the knowledge and skills they gained during the training.
In the end 30 women submitted business proposals for further support. The joint committee of the implementing partners selected 18 proposals from 19 women (2 women submitted 1 bid). Out of these women, 12 are from the internally displaced community and 7 from the host community. The 19 women were further supported in legally registering their businesses and in getting their business supplies. In December 2022, 17 of the supported businesses are operating in Sheikhan town.