Kurdish woman receives prestigious German award for work with refugees

Afrata Peshangakan
3 years ago

A Kurdish woman who fled war in Syria received a prestigious award presented by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday for her dedication to the integration of refugee women into German society.

"Proud, happy & overwhelmed to win the integration prize Bundeskanzlerin 2020!" Bjeen Alhassan, 28, from the Kurdish city of Qamishli, tweeted after winning the National Integration Prize.

"In 2014 I started a new life in Germany after fleeing war in Syria. Here I’m today in Bundeskanzleramt, representing all women from northeast Syria. I promise to always be there for them & support them!" Alhassan added.

Alhassan received the prize at the Berlin Federal Chancellery. The prize which includes a sum of 10,000 euros, was awarded for the fourth time. The focus of this year's award was "empowering women".

The 28-year-old Syrian received the award for her project "Learning with Bijin", a Facebook group in which, according to the Chancellery, she has been able to exchange ideas with up to 155 women since March 2020, give them tips on how to settle in Germany, reported by the German magazine Spiegel Politik. 

Alhassan advises the participants in four languages — Arabic, Kurdish, English and German. She helps them with everyday questions: How can I make it clear to the immigration authorities that I have not understood something? Where do I have my foreign qualifications recognized? How can I ask a doctor if I am pregnant?

Alhassan was jointly nominated by the Federation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) and the Federation of German Industry (BDI) for the award.

"Bjeen Alhassan is a role model and an incentive for women to tackle their life in Germany and take it into their own hands," Spiegel quoted Annette Widmann-Mauz, a member of the German Bundestagas as saying.

"Ms. Alhassan is extremely committed to the integration of refugee women into society and the labor market. She really deserves the award," Ingo Kramer, President of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA) told Der Spiegel.

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