Kurdish woman from Qamishlo wins Top National Integration Award in Germany

“I want to be a role model for Kurdish women,” award-winner Bjeen Alhassan told Kurdistan 24.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Bjeen Alhassan, a Kurdish woman from Qamishlo, on Monday, received the National Integration Prize in Germany. “I want to be a role model for Kurdish women,” she told Kurdistan 24.

The 28-year-old was born in the Syrian Kurdish city of Qamishlo and moved to Germany in February 2014.

She wrote on Twitter after winning the award that she was “proud, happy, [and] overwhelmed.”

“In 2014, I started a new life in Germany after fleeing war in Syria. Here [I am] today in Bundeskanzleramt, representing all women from northeast Syria. I promise to always be there for them and support them!”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at the award ceremony at the Federal Chancellery for the 2020 National Integration Prize that this year’s award was especially focused on initiatives for women and girls. “We can say there is no success without women.”

However, Chancellor Merkel was saddened she was unable to hand over the award to Alhassan herself.

Instead, German State Minister for Integration Annette Widmann-Mauz handed her the prize. However, the German Chancellor congratulated Alhassan on her award at the beginning of the ceremony.

The Federation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) and the Federation of German Industry (BDI) officially jointly suggested Alhassan for the award.

Her employer, the Committee on Innovation in Continuing Education (KWB) supported the suggestion. At the KWB, Alhassan coaches young refugees for their professional integration and career orientation.

Alhassan received the award for her project “Learning with Bijin – Empowerment of Syrian Women in Germany.”

Alhassan’s project is done through Facebook, where she runs an online learning program for Arabic and Kurdish speaking Syrian women on how to integrate into society. So far, she has reached over 270 women.

“With my project, I don’t only teach German women, but also possibilities for education or study, so that they are well-informed so that they know what they can do,” Alhassan explained in a video that was shown during the award ceremony.

“For this reason, I was recording my video’s first in Kurdish, and to talk with them in German and Kurdish, so at the beginning, they can master and understand the basis and grammar in German. When you know the language, you will automatically feel at home.”

Alhassan told Kurdistan 24 that she wants to be a role model for Kurdish women “to support them and show them that it’s possible to start a new life from scratch.”

“My master thesis title was: ‘Transfer of media know-how and skills between Germany and Syrian Kurdistan.’ I wish that one day I could support women in Qamishlo, Rojava, as well with an online learning program that can improve their skills for a better future.”

Dr. Frank-Jürgen Weise, chairman of the jury, praised her project during the ceremony and said all contributions were focused on how to make integration succeed.

“Bjeen Alhassan’s own work shows how integration can succeed: through volunteering work out of joy, love for people, convincing expertise and investments in people’s education. And better still—empowering people to develop well.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany