Carving Out Space for Women in Woodworking

Speeches Shim

Monday, May 24, 2021
As one of the few female carpenters in Iraq, Hasnaa Dharib has faced many hurdles. With support from USAID, she is able to overcome one remaining hurdle: expanding her business.

In Iraq, carpentry and woodworking are traditionally thought of as a man's job. But Hasnaa Dharib, a 50-year-old woman from Basrah, is changing that stereotype. Hasnaa runs one of the most well-known carpentry businesses in the region. She learned the trade after marrying a carpenter. In 2008, she and her husband established Hasnaa Factory, a successful carpentry business that manufactures doors and window frames. 

As one of the few female carpenters, Hasnaa has faced a number of challenges to setting up her business.“I registered the business and got a trade license in my name, but our community did not accept it. In the beginning, customers were unsure about buying from a woman. So I had to change the shop’s banner to say “The Brothers Carpentry Shop.”

Despite these obstacles, Hasnaa has proudly run her carpentry business for almost 15 years. She credits her success to the level of trust she’s been able to build with her customers. “My clients are loyal to me because I am honest and consistent with my timelines and the quality of my products,” says Hasnaa. 

After overcoming many hurdles, Hasnaa is ready to grow her business and expand into new markets. However, without access to financing, Hasnaa could not imagine purchasing the modern equipment she needed. With USAID’s support, Hasnaa is updating her factory with a machine that uses software to create designs for wood engraving, rather than engraving by hand. This new process will allow her to save time, develop new products, and ultimately serve more customers. 

With this new equipment, Hasnaa is starting to think about hiring new employees - ideally women - to help her respond to this increased demand. “It’s not easy to find women who want to work in this field, but I plan on hiring at least one female to take orders. I hope my story will encourage other females to enter this industry.”


Last updated: November 01, 2021

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