Women motivating women to strive for peace in Iraq
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.
UNWomen have worked in Iraq throughout the conflict, networking, cooperating and coordinating with women’s groups and providing them with the support and necessary training to reach out to women in the community. So many women missed out on education during the years of conflict, so the UNWomen team encourage partners to draw in women leaders and teachers among their own community.
Mina* is a 28-year-old who lives in Diyala, Muqdadiya District with her mother and seven sisters. She holds a law degree and works as a lawyer in the Muqdadiya Court. Mina experienced terrorism first-hand as a very young girl when al-Qaeda demolished the family home and murdered her brother in 2006. As a result, the family became displaced, which motivated Mina to study and influenced her career choice. She knows exactly what other families and vulnerable women have experienced and is aware of the discrimination Iraqi women face on a daily basis. Mina is convinced of the need to have more females involved in conflict resolution and peacebuilding in Diyala and in particular, in Muqdadiya district.
Mina's circumstances and experiences inspired her to join the Musharaka project which aims to enable women take on effective roles in peacebuilding, conflict resolution, and quick response, in the governorate of Diyala. Through the courses provided by the project, she developed skills in conducting advocacy campaigns to increase women's participation in conflict resolution and response.
"Through participating in the advocacy activities on the course, I have gained more information and skills that helped me increase my awareness of the importance of women's participation in conflict resolution. I learned how to implement plans and put in place advocacy campaigns, in order to place pressure on related organisations by promoting a greater and more influential role for women in peacebuilding in our beloved governorate," she said.
Mina learned about the project through the activities of participatory research groups and was impressed when the results of the research was presented. Mina’s interest, ability and knowledge of the law made her an ideal candidate to join the volunteer community committee and her role in the committee allowed her to appreciate the importance of effective volunteer participation within a unified group. Mina was able to witness the changes that can be affected when women come together and support each other, ensuring a much more powerful entity than any one individual.
"My participation in project activities convinced me that change can be made to the status of women, especially young women, contributing to the development of society in the governorate of Diyala. I am calling on all girls to develop their capacity to participate in supporting and developing our local communities to strengthen the role of women in peacebuilding”, she continued.
Mina currently lives with her mother and siblings and is the breadwinner in her family.
* Name changed to protect the identity of the woman