Although several years have passed since the establishment of Al-Zahraa University for Women in the Iraqi city of Karbala, Iraqi women academics still disagree about the need for its existence.
Some believe having women-only universities is the only way young women from conservative families can finish their education, while others think policies should be put through that change society.
A Unesco report in 2019 said it was estimated that more than a quarter of Iraqi women were illiterate, with the percentage rising to 50 percent in rural areas.
Al-Fanar Media spoke to Maram Youssef, an 18-year-old student at Al-Zahraa University for Women, who said she chose to enroll in the university three years ago despite being accepted by other public universities. She said joining a university designated for women allowed her to overcome “potential difficulties in mixed universities.”
She defended the idea of the university, saying studying there was a “fundamental right and a free choice that finds societal acceptance.”