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25 June 2024, Erbil: UN Women Iraq Representative, Ajay Madiwale, addressed the Sixth Lalish Conference for Peace and Coexistence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), along with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministers of Interior and Endowment and Religious Affairs, the German General Consul Klaus Streicher, the Secretary-General (SG) of the Iraqi High Council for Women and Development (HCWD) Dr. Khanzad Ahmed, and other national and international officials. The conference provided an opportunity for participants to reflect on issues related to peace and coexistence in Sinjar, the 10th anniversary of the Yazidi Genocide and preventing sexual violence in times of conflict.
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The decades of war in Iraq had a severe impact on women and girls whose lives were uprooted physically as they fled the terrors of violence. Many were left vulnerable, facing poverty, with little education and a poor social standing in the community.
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The patriarchy remains a barrier for progress in Iraq and is largely responsible for holding back social and economic development in the country, despite the rhetoric. The control of women and the view and practice that women should remain in the home, prevents 50 per cent of population from contributing to rebuilding society in the aftermath decades of destruction caused by conflict.
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There is a proliferation of misinformation throughout media, driving hate crimes, including racism and leading to increased violent crimes. Across the global female politicians are particularly targeted with hate crimes, and threats of violence on social media - Iraq is no exception. The relevance and importance of truthful and ethical journalism has never been so crucial to good governance, peace, and democracy. Well trained and ethical journalists have a major part in reporting truth and questioning the status quo. They play an important role in rebuilding Iraq into a more fair and equitable society.
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UNWomen Representative to Iraq, Dina Zorba, met with the Minister of Displacement and Migration, Evan Faik, to discuss the displaced women portfolio and providing women with programs and projects that qualify them to integrate back into the society.
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An international festival was launched by the Iraqi Women Media Forum, in partnership with the United Nations, to honor 15 exceptional female journalists from different countries with the Atwar Bahgat Award 2023.
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Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Masrour Barzani attended the International Women's Day event organized by The High Council of Women and Development (HCWD) and in partnership with UNWomen in Erbil.
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There is much work to be done to bring Iraq back into being a progressive, developed country where all citizens have equal rights regardless of their status, gender or (dis)ability.
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The aftermath of the long shadow of conflict in Iraq has left many vulnerable women without the social skills to manage daily tasks or simple issues that may arise. Many face a future with the lingering trauma of the years of conflict, poverty and violence they experienced. UNWomen through its local partner Bring Hope identified that rebuilding the country and enabling women to participate in development for the benefit of all, needs the strength and wisdom of its women.
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Adama is 23 years-old and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Management and Economics. She was born and lives in Salah Al-Din governorate in Tikrit district.
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As an Iraqi woman Eman Rasho (23) has known violence and conflict most of her life. More than nine years ago her family lived in Sinjar when ISIS attacked the community and the family fled to Zakho and from there they crossed the border to Turkey.
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The conflict in Iraq brought unimaginable change in the lives of vulnerable women and girls across the country. Left without the security of a home and forced to seek shelter in camps for displaced people, many young girls’ education was disrupted, and most were never fortunate enough to return to learning.
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There are myriad reasons why the women in Iraq are vulnerable – the years of conflict left many homeless and in poverty, frequently subjected to sexual and physical violence and without a voice in decision making on issues that directly affect them.
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Iraq’s recovery from decades of conflict is a slow process where issues are yet to be resolved at national and at community level. The participation of women in Iraq’s peace process is central to resolving conflict and bringing about a peaceful developed society that provides equity opportunity for all its citizens, regardless of their gender.
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Many educated women in Iraq are constrained by the social norms of a patriarchal society that consigns them to life inside the home and out of the public sphere. Rather than being able to provide for their family with educational qualifications, these young, qualified women, lack the confidence to seek work that allows their skills and talents to be appreciated and more importantly, to be paid a decent wage for that skill.
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When conflict broke out in Mosul, Sinjar district, Hakima Hajie Malko’s family fled for safety and her education came to an abrupt halt. The family currently live in Kabarto One camp for the internally displaced in Duhok governorate. A star student, Hakima, now 21 years-old, said her greatest wish was to return to studies and develop her talent as an artist in order to support her family.
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Zeina, a 30-year-old divorcee who fled for safety when Mosul in Sinjar district was captured by the forces of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Zeina found herself in Kabarto One camp in Duhok governate.
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In her short 33 years, Marwa Muhammad Elias has faced enormous challenges including poverty, hardship and ostracization by her community. Married at 21, she lived in Al-Hussainiya until conflict broke out in her village and the community accused her father of being a member of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
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Sakna Hassan Mahmoud (32), is from Husniya, a village on the outskirts of Mosul city. In 2017, clan conflict erupted in the village and fearing for her safety and that of her children, Sakna fled and eventually found her way to Khazer camp. Sakna was a child bride, married when she was 13 years-old to a 22 year-old man. Her husband worked as a guard in the Husniya area but died in 2016, leaving Sakna a widow with five children.
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28 November 2022; Erbil, Iraq – The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)’s annual “Let’s Talk” conference this year brought together the UN, NGOs, policymakers, civil society, activists, academia, donors, and the private sector from across Iraq to unite and commit to ending Gender-based Violence (GBV).