- Raghad Hav participated in the 2019 UNITAR training programme Empowering Social Entrepreneurs and Youth Leaders for Iraq.
- After completing the UNITAR programme, Raghad founded She Codes Too, where she teaches Iraqi women to code.
- In 2022, Raghad returned to UNITAR programmes as a resource person for the Waffle Camp × SDGs Workshop.
- Through empowering the women in her community and leading by example, Raghad wants to convince Iraqi women that they can do anything.
March 2022 – Raghad Hav started with a small idea and brought it to life with the help of the 2019 UNITAR training programme Empowering Social Entrepreneurs and Youth Leaders for Iraq. Raghad founded She Codes Too, where she teaches Iraqi women to code.
Raghad started her career teaching computer sciences at the University of Information Technology and Communications in Baghdad. Her passion was to show her students how full of possibilities the IT field was. But while she enjoyed teaching, Raghad wanted to do something more practical, to start her own project. She just had no more than a slight idea of what or how.
I just knew it was going to be teaching women about programming, but I had zero knowledge about how to create this initiative.
When she heard about UNITAR programmes from an alumna, Raghad decided to apply. “Customised classes for you,” in her words, was what she liked the most about the programme. She needed a place where people could help her take a small idea and prove it, connect her with knowledgeable people, and encourage her to keep going. And that’s exactly what she found.
Joining the programme was “a big gate of resources,” says Raghad. It taught her how to plan and run a project and behave as a manager – being punctual, observing, running a team – and even how to shake hands: one day, Dr Clare Gately, the trainer for the entrepreneurship program, asked Raghad to shake hands with her. When they shook, she said, “yes, you have a problem with this.” She showed Raghad how a firm handshake can give the impression of a confident and competent leader. “I've never thought about shaking hands,” says Raghad.
That was amazing of her, noticing tiny things and wanting to improve it. It’s an honest way to teaching you, to make you a better leader.
After completing the UNITAR programme, Raghad started She Codes Too. Through the initiative, Raghad teaches Iraqi women coding and programming languages and mentors them on how to find jobs. Since 2020, She Codes Too grew from Raghad teaching nine women how to create a website to a team of volunteer trainers, free courses, and videos and tutorials on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. Forty women are taking part in the latest course on programming languages.
Raghad is happy to see that She Codes Too is having a positive effect on the women it reaches. “They like the space we’re creating,” she says. The learners continue to help each other as a community of women programmers.
In 2022, Raghad returned to UNITAR programmes as a resource person for the Waffle Camp × SDGs Workshop. The workshop taught high school girls in Hiroshima about basic coding and the Sustainable Development Goals. There, she shared the story of She Codes Too and discussed how to overcome the gender gap in IT. Raghad found some differences between Iraqi and Japanese students, such as their willingness to show their faces online, but she also saw the similarities – the young women’s passion for programming and their desire to change stereotypes of women in STEM.
When she started She Codes Too, Raghad was criticized for discriminating against men. But she simply wants to give women the same opportunities as men. Raghad does not consider herself a revolutionary. Through empowering the women in her community and leading by example, Raghad wants to convince Iraqi women that they can do anything.
These tiny, small steps I'm doing, hoping to affect and give more good examples for other women – I know it's not a big audience to give bigger effects. But that's what I can do right now.