The Women of Tavakkolan Step Up

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Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh

22 October 2012

This short documentary explores how a women’s empowerment project in the remote Iranian village of Tavakkolan impacted not only the lives of women but also an entire local population.

Before the commencement of the empowerment project, Tavakkolan, located in Iran’s Kurdistan Province, had a population of 384 people, including 56 families. The village had only five traditional midwives and, as is shown in the film, lacked any modern facilities aside from electricity. They had no clean water, no plumbing, no hospital, no school, no telephone service, no media, and no roads.

After the women’s empowerment project began in Tavakkolan, a women’s common investment box was created to fund micro-credit businesses in the village. The women also received short-term courses for skills like basic accounting and literacy. The Tavakkolan women’s empowerment project also established social skills workshops and activities, health programmes for men and women, and financial support.

This documentary also gives insight into how women in small, remote villages like Tavakkolan demonstrate a great capacity for leadership when faced with hardship. According to local sources, a number of the village men have abandoned traditional responsibilities to take part in the drug trade and the black market. As the film shows, women in Tavakkolan have now taken on most of the major trade and labor roles in the village rather than the men.

The women’s empowerment project carried out in Tavakkolan demonstrates one of the ways in which modern Iranian civil society can pave the way to and engage effective grassroots programs in rural areas. Moreover, the women of Tavakkolan prove that rural villages can be ideal civil and economic spheres for the empowerment of women. When given the most basic of resources and the chance to step up, the women of these regions can thrive as community leaders, civil servants, and savvy entrepreneurs.