With hammer and saw, Nour al-Janabi builds her latest creation, a candy-pink sofa, in the carpentry workshop she runs in male-dominated and conservative Iraq.
“At the start, relatives criticized me,” said the 29-year-old carpenter and furniture-maker, who is also a mother of four. “They would say: ‘But you’re a woman... You’re an amateur... It’s a men’s trade.’”
Covered in velvet or imitation leather, the sofas and armchairs that she designs, makes and mends in her south Baghdad workshop go from rustic style to Louis XV.
Her order book is full, with new lounges starting at a cool 700,000 dinars (US$479.29).
Al-Janabi has been making furniture for several years, and launched her business, Nour Carpentry, a few months ago. She recently moved operations from her home to a house turned workshop, where she has four employees — one of whom is her retired husband.
“But it’s not right to say it like that,” she said with an embarrassed smile, her hijab covering her hair.
In oil-rich Iraq, women make up just 13.3 percent of the labor force, World Bank data showed, while the World Economic Forum ranked the country 154 out of 156 in its latest Global Gender Gap Report.
A study published last year by two UN agencies said that while most Iraqis consider tertiary education equally important for men and women, “attitudes toward equal rights in employment are discriminatory against women.”
Al-Janabi attributes her success largely to do-it-yourself tutorials that she first posted on Facebook to share her passion for carpentry and furniture-making.
She uploads videos — about everything from how to re-stuff an old sofa to using a sander — to TikTok and Instagram, where she has more than 94,000 followers.
“I am the first Iraqi woman to do this trade and break the barrier in this field,” she said, in a country still largely dominated by conservative attitudes about women’s role in society, and where those perceived as too independent are sometimes even considered immoral.
She said she receives comments from women and men telling her: “You make Iraq proud and you have accomplished something.”
“May God give you strength and health,” one user commented on a video of al-Janabi presenting a sofa decorated with a floral pattern.
One of her clients, Abu Sajjad, dropped by to see how his sofa repairs were going — untroubled by prejudices some others might harbor against dealing with a female carpenter and business owner.
Most working women in Iraq are teachers or nurses, although a small number have entered the police or armed forces.
One of them is Angham al-Tamimi, who this year became the first female army general.
In a video broadcast by the military’s news service, she said she had “faced the nonacceptance of women in the military.”
However, she said she had succeeded thanks to her “persistence” and “passion.”
CONSIDERATIONS: The NSTC instructed the park to assist laid-off workers and urge companies to use furlough programs to ease the effects of falling demand Firms in the Hsinchu Science Park (新竹科學園區), which houses major tech companies, reported laying off 496 employees last month amid weakened global demand, Hsinchu Science Park Bureau director-general Wayne Wang (王永壯) said yesterday. Wang told a news conference that 48 companies in the science park laid off employees last month, including one hard disk supplier which let go 241 employees as part of a plant closure due to falling demand. Other companies reported sporadic layoffs as they adjusted to weakening demand, he said. Wang made the remarks after local media reported the layoffs over the weekend. Although the global economy is struggling with high
DEJA VU: Echoing the probe into real-estate giant Evergrande Group, the bank is under Beijing police scrutiny after last week, telling investors it is ‘severely insolvent’ Chinese authorities said they recently opened criminal investigations into Zhongzhi Enterprise Group Co’s (中植企業) money management business, days after the embattled shadow banking giant revealed a shortfall of US$36.4 billion in its balance sheet. Police in Beijing said in a statement on WeChat that they took “criminal mandatory measures” against multiple suspects, identifying one by their last name, Xie (解). They urged investors to report cases or provide leads to the authorities, including filing complaints online. Xie Zhikun (解直錕), the group’s founder, died in 2021, but several of his relatives are executives at the company. The statement did not elaborate on what
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck have promised to solve investment subsidy issues for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) and Intel Corp, despite the country’s budget woes. Uncertainty over the funding to TSMC and Intel has arisen after a ruling by the German Federal Constitutional Court, which cast doubt over subsidies for construction of local semiconductor chip plants. On Nov. 15, the court ruled that the German government’s decision last year to reallocate 60 billion euros (US$65.74 billion) of unused funding from COVID-19 pandemic support measures to its Climate and Transformation Fund
NEW TREAD: The Taiwanese shoe brand paired with TSMC to turn silicon waste into a circular economy good, following its success making shoes from coffee grounds Ccilu International Inc (馳綠國際), a Taiwan-based footwear brand, has become the first company in the world to turn silicon waste from contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) into eco-friendly shoes. Last year, the global footwear industry saw the first pair of pressure-relief slippers made from recycled silicon waste by Ccilu. The brand continued to unveil follow-up collections, including sports shoes and massage slippers made from the same materials. In an interview with CNA, Ccilu CEO Wilson Hsu (許佳鳴) recalled the company’s innovation of the first pair of slippers made from silicon waste after its silicon waste treatment partner, Semisils Applied Materials