WPHF is channeling strategic and urgent financing for local civil society organizations in Iraq to increase women’s and girls’ participation in conflict-prevention efforts and enhance the inclusiveness and gender-responsiveness of humanitarian action and crisis response.
In Iraq, WPHF is filling critical funding gaps for grassroots organizations working to support women’s peacebuilding efforts and humanitarian action, end sexual and gender-based violence, and protect human rights in conflict settings.
WPHF is also strengthening the capacity of women’s rights groups and other local civil society organizations working to counter and prevent violent extremism across the country.
WPHF has supported 20 projects implemented by 30 women-led and women’s rights civil society organizations across three main WPHF outcome areas:
- Woman Leader Institute (WLI) on a project to increase IDP women’s access to social and financial services and to the job market in Kirkuk through trainings on starting and running a successful small business and increasing their knowledge of their rights and protection provisions under Iraq’s Labor Law. The project will also provide them with psychosocial support and legal services and facilitate problem-solving dialogues between breadwinner internally displaced women and representatives from local authorities and institutions (e.g., the Labor and Social Affairs Directorate, financing institutions, and the Business Registration Department) to discuss challenges and ways to mitigate them.
- Kanz Humanitarian Organization — together with Accepting Others Organization (AOO) — on a project to strengthen the socioeconomic situation of IDPs, returnees and host community women in Diyala by developing their business skills through trainings, sub-grants to establish their small businesses, coaching, guiding, the provision of support to ensure the success and sustainability of their businesses, and networking with other organizations and the private sector for employment opportunities.
- Sewan Women Empowerment Organization (SEWO) — together with Kurdistan Organization for Human Rights Watch (KOHRW) — on a project to improve the socioeconomic recovery and political participation of IDP and returnee women and girls in peacebuilding contexts — supporting them to take ownership and participate in political decision-making through i) trainings on leadership, conflict analysis, gender and countering violent extremism; ii) sub-grants for initiatives on community cohesion, resilience, and peace; and iii) the establishment of networks of groups of displaced women and girls and local peace committees to organize conferences.
- Iraqi Organization for Women and Future (IOWAF), a previous WPHF CSO partner, on a project to improve awareness of women’s rights and gender equality and promote the rights of displaced Iraqi women and girls through i) awareness raising on trafficking and human exploitation, drug use, early marriage, and dialogue sessions; ii) protection services against SGBV, CRSV and human trafficking through legal and psychosocial services; and iii) trainings for service providers in IOWAF centers on women’s empowerment for vulnerable women and young women affected by forced displacement, including vocational skills trainings and a Cash-For-Work initiative.
- Al Hub wa Al Salam Iraqi Global Organization — together with Hala Organization for Human Development and Training — on a project to enhance the economic and social agency of forcibly displaced women through capacity building, supporting their livelihoods, and empowering them to participate in peacebuilding and maintaining stability. This will be achieved through awareness raising; trainings on leadership, governance, women’s rights, and professional skills; consultations and focus group discussions; and trainings for the local co-implementing partner.
- Training and Development Widows’ Center on a project to establish a capacity-building center on socioeconomic and political recovery to strengthen the participation of forcibly displaced women in peacebuilding through trainings on professional skill development, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities — providing psychological and legal support to women survivors of SGBV, implementing discussion sessions for sociopolitical empowerment and decision-making skills building, and conducting first aid trainings and awareness raising to improve emergency health response.
Enabling Environment for WPS
- Al-Taqwa Association for Women and Children Rights — together with Anhur, Women Foundation for Development, Awan Organization and Women’s Rights Center in Al-Muthana — on a project that raises awareness of the local challenges of the implementation of the WPS Agenda and supports the participation of women and minority civil society organizations in the local implementation of UNSCR 1325.
- Al-Weyam Organization for Human Rights Defending on a project that engages women in Iraqi Ministries and increases their knowledge of gender issues and UNSCR 1325 to enhance their ability to implement the second Iraqi 1325 NAP.
- Sawtuha Network for Human Rights Defenders on a project that identifies key women’s issues and challenges in six Iraqi governorates and advocates for these issues to be addressed at both local and national levels. Through this advocacy, Sawtuha also aims to increase the public awareness of WPS and UNSCR 1325.
- Accepting Others Organization (AOO) — together with Safe Organization for Developing Society, Investigator Organization for the Rule of Law in Erbil and Independent Media — on a project that strengthens the capacity of women activists to monitor the implementation of NAP 1325 through the creation of an effective mechanism for their protection and safety. The project also emphasizes the role of governments in protecting and equipping these women with knowledge and skills on NAP1325 and raising community awareness of social patriarchal norms.
- Iraqi Al Firdaws Society (IFS) on a project that (i) addresses the lack of empirical quantitative and qualitative data on youth and extremism across the Basra Governorate from a peacebuilding and gender perspective; (ii) identifies the social roots of youth’s engagement in violent extremism and disenfranchisement; and (iii) highlights the causes of gender discrimination and gender-based violence.
- Bent Al-Rafadayen Organization (BROB) on a project that localizes all WPS commitments in four Iraqi governorates through evidence-based advocacy and technical support. This project seeks to empower community actors and increase their understanding of local relevant accountability frameworks that meet emerging threats and challenges, with a focus on violent extremism.
- Bustan Association for Children and Adult Protection — together with Iraqi Al-Firdaws Society, Sports Spirit Organization, and Orchard Foundation for Human Apeal — on a project that prevents violent extremism and increases women’s participation in peace processes across five ISIS-impacted Iraqi provinces (Dyalah, Kirkuk, Salah Al Din, Ninewa, Anbar).
- Asuda Organization for Combatting Violence Against Women — together with Azmoon Organization and Judal Organization — on a project that (i) increases Iraqi authorities’ awareness of their key role in implementing UNSCR 1325 through evidence-based advocacy; (ii) supports government figures to develop effective local accountability frameworks; and (iii) builds local NGOs capacities on UNSCR 1325.
- Baghdad Women’s Association (BWA) — together with Alliance 1325 — on a project that enhances the accountability and monitoring of the Federal and Kurdistan Governments in implementing the second Iraqi National Action Plan (INAP) for UNSCR 1325. The project also provided evidence-based advocacy to encourage both governments to invest the required financial and human resources for optimal implementation of the INAP.
- Awan Organization for Awareness and Capacity Building — together with Democratic Organization for Women and Al-Haboby Foundation for Youth — on a project to increase women’s meaningful participation in conflict prevention and response by i) enhancing communication with local CSOs through workshops, discussion forums, and capacity building for local committees; ii) developing standard operating procedures in conflict management; iii) conducting trainings for media professionals on gender-sensitive reporting; and iv) producing research studies on the role of women in conflict prevention and response at the local level.
- Empowerment Organization for Development and Public Services (EODPS) on a project to increase the awareness of young women and girls of their rights under UNSCR 1325, Iraq’s National Action Plan (NAP) and the involvement of youth in peace and security — including conflict prevention — through trainings of trainers for young women in schools and colleges, the creation of feminist peace clubs in those schools, and trainings on management, social media, digital and in-person advocacy to lobby with local authorities and stakeholders, as well as the provision of small grants for young women to implement community-based projects.
- Women’s Rights Center in Samawa on a project to strengthen the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution by increasing their participation in mediation and advocacy through meetings on conflict resolution, workshops on mediation, dialogue sessions for community members on conflict prevention, the development of local monitoring and evaluation plans based on progress indicators of the second Iraqi NAP, and capacity building for 120 women and youth organizations through trainings and workshops.
- Sabaa Center for Studies and Human Development on a project to enhance women’s role and participation in conflict prevention and peacebuilding through trainings for local women’s organizations on early warning systems, peacebuilding, countering violent extremism, negotiations, and conflict resolution; trainings for community coexistence committees; local meetings on crisis response plans for women; radio emissions to encourage female representation in peacebuilding; and women committees and dialogue sessions with local communities to increase women’s participation.
- Al-Khamayel Foundation for Development and Resisting Violence Against Women on a project to enhance women’s leadership and participation in conflict resolution and prevention and advance their role in society through workshops on conflict resolution, peaceful coexistence, and women’s empowerment and leadership, as well as through artistic activities including music, singing, dancing and drawing; and field visits to conflict-affected households.
- Accepting Others Organization on a project focused on developing its institutional and human resource capacities, developing a strategic plan, reviewing its profile and HR manual, and supporting it to sustain its office premises and utilities for six months.
- Zahrat Al Iraq Organization for Humanitarian Relief on a project to strengthen its institutional capacity by enhancing the technical capacities of staff members and volunteers on mechanisms for protection against violence and conflict in targeted areas.
- Al Manahil Association on a project aimed at i) building the capacity of staff members on gender protection issues in peace, security and humanitarian contexts; and ii) providing them with practical experience to improve the continuity of the organization’s work on protecting the rights of women and girls and responding to their needs.
- Jinda Organization for Women and Girls — together with Bring Hope Humanitarian Foundation — on a project to increase women’s meaningful participation in conflict prevention by conducting workshops, establishing local women councils to enhance the role of women in conflict prevention, and creating social media platforms for promoting inclusive decision-making.
- Dak Organization for Ezidi Women Development on a project to support the active participation of women in conflict prevention, crisis response, peacebuilding and recovery through i) enhancing the facilitation and mediation capacities of targeted local actors to mitigate conflict cases and solve tensions; and ii) developing women-led, community-based early-warning systems.
- Ajyal Association for the Development of Intelligence and Creativity —together with Youth Forum for Peace and Taawn Organization for Consumer Protection — on a project aimed at increasing the effective participation of women in decision-making processes on conflict prevention and rapid response through research initiatives, women’s community forums, psychosocial and legal support, youth empowerment, and engagement with community leaders.
- Iraqi Women Journalist Forum (IWJF) on a project to increase women’s participation in decision-making processes, with a focus on advocacy efforts, capacity building, and the promotion of women’s role in conflict prevention. The project also aims to improve the effectiveness of conflict prevention mechanisms in Iraq by ensuring effective community participation.
- Civil Development Organization — together with Pasewan Organization — on a project to strengthen the role of women in decision-making, as well as their involvement in political, economic and domestic spheres, though awareness-raising activities, the establishment of a network of volunteer groups to be trained on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and advocacy efforts to increase women’s representation.
- Information Center for Research and Development on a project aimed at strengthening women’s capacity to reduce conflicts and their negative effects in society through community participation, the development of early warning indicators, and the promotion of a culture of peace.
- Sawa Organization for Human Rights on a project that aims to train women, women’s organizations, and governmental actors on conflict-prevention efforts, raising awareness of their peacebuilding role in their communities.
- Ayadi Alsalam for Relief and Development (AARD) on a project that addresses the risk of conflict escalation and the disenfranchisement of women in Mosul by educating people on the importance of women’s participation in conflict prevention, as well as by supporting existing women’s peacebuilding groups and creating new ones.
- Dak Organization for Ezidi Women Development — together with Rainbow Organization — on a project that aims to build a more peaceful and gender-equal society in northern Iraq by advocating for women participation in conflict resolution and decision making. The project also seems to create groups of women from different areas in Sinjar and train them in facilitation and mediation capacities.
- Women’s Empowerment for Peacebuilding Organization (WEPO) on a project that engages women’s CSOs, Iraqi political parties, religious and ethnic groups to increase women’s participation in conflict and peacebuilding efforts by forming women coalitions and building their knowledge of UNSCR 1325.
- Sewan Women’s Empowerment Organization on a project aimed at building an early-warning network of around 200 women and training them to oversee risk assessments, identify drivers of conflicts, and come up with concrete ways of preventing tensions. The project also engages religious leaders in preventing violent extremism and diffusing ethnic tensions between communities.
- Iraq Minorities Council (IMC) — together with Awan Organization for Women’s Rights in Iraq — on a project that trains women’s organizations in conflict prevention and crisis response through traditional and social media campaigns, including on women’s contribution to preventing violent extremism and building peace.
- Iraq Women Journalist Forum on a project aimed at training women journalists and conducting awareness-raising campaigns on WPS issues in the media, as well as teaching local women’s organizations how to establish early-warning systems and link them to national stakeholders.
- Voice of Older People and Families (VOP-FAM) — together with Bishkoreen NGO for Women and Childcare — on a project that aims to establish a women peacebuilding and early warning system. The project trained 300 women on early warning systems and 40 women to become Ambassadors for Peace, raising awareness of 5,000 women on the role of women in peacebuilding.
Humanitarian & Crisis Response
- Iraq Institution for development (IID) — together with ZOA International — on a project that empowers women to launch peacebuilding initiatives within their communities and create community groups — including men, women and children — for the prevention of violent extremism.
- Iraqi Organization for Women and Future (IOWAF) on a project that aims to empower women — including young women, recent graduates, and unemployed women-headed households — by increasing their livelihood opportunities and providing legal and psychosocial support to survivors of violence.
Decades of armed conflicts and violence, topped with the neighboring Syrian Crisis and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, have had profound impacts on the political, social, and economic context of Iraq, a country that continues to be marked by instability, insecurity, aggravated poverty, and volatility.
Against this background, women’s rights, well-being, and representation have rapidly deteriorated in recent years. Violence against women continues to be predominant in the country, while internally-displaced women and girls remain particularly vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence — including early and forced marriage and kidnappings — and lack access to basic needs.
The adoption of the first Iraqi National Action Plan (NAP) on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 was a significant step towards protecting women and enabling their meaningful participation in peacebuilding and conflict resolution efforts. Yet, the little political will, restricted financial support, and lack of local ownership obstructed its expected impacts. Nevertheless, after several months of advocacy and collaboration led by women machineries and with the support UN Women, a second Iraqi NAP was adopted in December 2020.
Women’s engagement and participation in combating and preventing violent extremism is one of the most critical components of the WPS agenda in Iraq. As ISIL’s influence was growing across the country, an increasing number of women and girls from diverse religious and ethnic became targets of sexual violence, with the group establishing a pattern of sexual slavery, abduction, and human trafficking. Following the group’s defeat, the survivors have continued to face marginalization, discrimination, and violence because of their perceived affiliation with the group.
In Iraq, WPHF aims to ensure the financing and coordination of grassroots civil society organizations working to increase women’s meaningful participation and decision-making in conflict prevention processes and humanitarian assistance mechanism, aiming for an enabling environment for the WPS Agenda across the country.