(Baghdad - Saad Al-Baghdadi) - As soon as the internet came to Iraq, Iraqis seized upon it, and began browsing. In a short time Iraqi women have come to be among its most frequent users in Iraq. And no sooner did the internet come into Iraq homes, than the proportion of users who are women increased even more. In the following, we cover what Aafaq learned from discussions of internet usage with a number of Iraqi women. [Full Story in Arabic]
The Internet has made Research Easier
The student Ghufran Karim -- second level, political science, Baghdad University -- said that "one of the best things the university did was establish the Office of the Internet within the university, which has provided us with easy access. And with respect to its utility for me personally, the internet has widened personal relations. I now have colleagues and friends in Morocco and Egypt, as well as in Europe, I communicate seriously with them. The internet has greatly facilitated research and has made it easier. Now through the internet, I can complete research that is of high quality in record time. .... Last year I wrote a research paper on Kissinger's strategic thinking, and finished it within only seven days, and received a high grade. And this is only one example."
The Internet helps Friends and Family Members keep in Touch
Iman Hadi, a housewife, says: "At the outset I used to look at my husband and my children spending long hours in front of the computer on the internet. I learned from them how to use it and I learned to speak with my friends via 'Messenger' and spend an hour or more talking about cooking and household affairs ... it shortens the distance between friends." Everyone, she said, benefits to an extent. "I, personally, like to use 'Messenger' to talk with my sister in Sweden with the camera on, making it as if she were here with us. This was not available to us here before. I think it is very important to our existence that we have the internet for 24 hours a day for $50 a month...."
It Permits the Completion of University Studies
Ms. Limya Omar said that the internet has allowed her to complete her distance studies at one of the foreign universities, adding that she was able to complete the first course and obtain a diploma -- she went to Jordan to take the examination there -- and that she is now in the final stage. When I said told her that the Ministry of Higher Education does not recognize diplomas from internet studies, she answered me, "naturally, they will recognize them after a year or two, since the world is evolving ... we continue to study on a daily basis, and I access the most important sources of knowledge via the internet."
Ms. Umm Kawthar joined us in this discussion. She said that she had been prevented from completing her studies, but that her husband has advised her to complete her studies now through the internet, and added, "I am now really studying in one of the universities that awards diplomas via the internet." She adds, "of course, I find it strange that the Ministry of Higher Education does not recognize internet diplomas, but this attitude is a leftover from the past, and we must go along with modern civilization."
Internet builds social relations
The office employee Suhad Qasim added that when she was living in Syria made friends and developed relationships there, and that since returning to Iraq she has continued these relationships through the internet, saying "I visit 'the net' every day." With regard to the costs, Suhad said "There are internet cafes everywhere in Baghdad. It is true that the costs are relatively high, and in some places an hour costs more than a dollar and a half. Naturally the internet is a burden on a person’s budget – this is its only disadvantage."
The Internet Cafe is another Opportunity to Meet with Friends
Amina Muhammad, a student in the fifth class in the science program and her friend Amal go to an internet cafe every day. They say, "We often 'chat' with our female and male friends on the internet, and in addition, the internet cafe provides us the opportunity to meet after class." Amina said, "I personally know women friends in Europe through the internet ... the internet has broadened our knowledge. Before we used the internet, I did not like to study. Now I have the desire to complete my studies, because I know respectable people. Through these relationships I have become very interested in studying."
Taysir, an employee with the Rashid Bank, said that her work involves internet services for the bank's customers, and that the job has enabled her to develop her technical knowledge. She points out that the internet is an extremely wide world. And she adds, "I believe that my friends and I have been able to prove superior aptitude in its use.... It has made much of our work easier, and reduced the time that correspondence between offices and branches takes. This is the distinction of technology, the shortening of the time it takes to communicate with the world."