A brief overview of Wadi’s activities 1993-2007
WADI is a German-Iraqi NGO, founded in Germany in 1991 and began its activities in Northern Iraq in 1993. The Austrian branch of WADI opened in 2003. Promoting human rights and supporting the democratic reconstruction of Iraq are one of the main goals of our work. Our projects in Iraq therefore focus on empowering women and assisting women in distress. WADI’s staff members in Northern Iraq, recruited in their communities, combat violence against women and struggle to improve the social and economic status of women in Iraqi society. WADI also supports marginalized groups, such as prisoners and Internally Displaced People (IDP’s). Additionally our programs aim to encourage and to empower local NGOs, democratic organizations and women’s networks.
In Germany, WADI works in cooperation with the “Coalition for a Democratic Iraq”. Our activities in Germany include publishing research concerning human and women rights abuse in Iraq, and assisting asylum seekers from Iraq and other countries in the Middle East. In the beginning of the 1990s, when the region suffered massive destruction, WADI supported reconstruction and resettlement program for displaced people in Northern Iraq as well as emergency programs. Since 1995, WADI has mainly supported long-term projects. You can find here information in WADI’s projects and activities:
1) Fighting Illiteracy
The society of Northern Iraq has been severely affected by decades of Ba’athist dictatorship, which meant persecution, discrimination, murder, exile and war. Generations of young people have grown up under these conditions and rarely attended school. Struggling to survive, the majority of the population in Northern Iraq society did not complete primary school.
Nowadays, up to 46% of men in Northern Iraq are illiterate. Illiteracy is even more widespread among women. Especially in rural regions, girls are still denied education. Education is essential for rebuilding democratic society in Northern Iraq. WADI’s support for literacy programs is part of democratic reconstruction of Iraq.
From 1993 to 1998, WADI ran a campaign against illiteracy in Suleymaniah and New Kirkuk Governorates. Specific literacy courses were developed in cooperation with local women’s organizations. The courses were organized in cities, collective towns and rural areas.
Local women’s organizations – at that time mostly linked to the rival political parties- were encouraged to cooperate and develop a common curriculum. WADI took part in setting the network CHRA, based in Kurdistan and has provided literacy classes with new schoolbooks according to pedagogic standards, stationary and trainings for teachers. This program was closely coordinated with UNICEF and the Kurdish Ministry of Education.
Since the opening of the first WADI’s women center in 2003, literacy courses have been integrated into the curricula of these centers. Today, literacy courses are provided to women in the women centers of Halabja, Byara (Hauraman) and Kifri. After completing six literacy courses, women are eligible to take the governmental final exam for primary school diploma. In 2006, 30 women passed this exam after taking part in the women centers literacy courses.
2) Assistance for Women in Distress
- a) NAWA Center Suleymaniah
In 1997, WADI began to plan the first women’s shelter in Northern Iraq, in close cooperation with all active women’s organizations of Suleymaniah. The project was also assisted by Women against violence (Nazareth). The first shelter for women in distress, NAWA Center, opened in 1999, after two years of intense preparations. WADI ran NAWA for two years in cooperation with women’s organizations of Suleymaniah. Then the center was taken under the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs. WADI continues to cover part of running costs and participates in decision making process.
The general goal of the center is to help the many women who suffer serious social or psychological problems. At the outset, this group of women included mainly homeless and helpless women; those who lost their family during war or were the victims of displacement that affected the whole Kurdish society since the infamous Anfal-Campaign that took place from 1986 to 1988. Nowadays, the center treats female victims of violence: domestic violence, forced marriages, and women threatened by “honor killings”. In traditional Kurdish society, women are subjected to men, and disobedience may be revenged by murder. Disobedient women are considered sinners. In 1999 NAWA Center was the only place where women could fled to in order to save their lives. Since then, WADI supported opening of more women’s shelters in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Women in danger can find a safe place in NAWA Center. The center provides food and accommodation as well as psychological and medical treatment, social and juridical assistance. Workshops, literacy courses and vocational trainings are provided to the women in order to improve their psychological situation to provide them the means to make a living. Women are allowed to stay in the center until their problems are resolved and their psychological situation can be considered stabilized. The main objective of the center is to reintegrate these women into society while keeping their dignity.
From the opening of the center until 2007, more than 1200 were assisted in NAWA Center.
11 women’s organizations from Arbil have asked WADI to help them open a similar center in their city. WADI and NAWA assisted them to KHANZAD Center for women in distress in Arbil in 2002. At present, NAWA Center is run by local authorities and local staff, and still financially supported by WADI. Since the center moved to a new building, up to 10 women can be accommodated in the shelter. From January until August 2006, 70 women were accommodated and treated in NAWA Center. The center’s staff works in close cooperation with other women’s shelters: KHANZAD (Arbil), ASUDA (Suleymaniah), Lani Aram (Suleymaniah / supported by the PUK) and Centeri Penar (Chamchamal).
- b) Khanzad Center for Women in Distress in Arbil
Khanzad opened in 2002 with financial and logistical assistance of WADI. Khanzad works along the ideas and guidelines of NAWA Center. Khanzad remained open during difficult war times of 2003 when most organizations closed down. The center is widely accepted in Arbilian community, which is known to be more traditional and conservative than Suleymaniah’s society. Since 2005 the administration of Khanzad centre in Arbil is fully local.
- c) Mosul Centre for Women in Distress
|NAWA and Khanzad focus on the following programs:
I) Social and medical assistance
Medical assistants take care of women’s health. In severe cases, doctors are consulted. Often, women arrive in the centers in very bad health conditions, especially women who lived in the street for a long time.
II) Psychological consultancy
IV) Short and long term shelter
VI) Literacy courses and vocational training
VIII) Juridical assistance
Members of NAWA and KHANZAD participate in local and international conferences and exchange their experiences with women of all nationalities working in the same domain.
Both centers try to influence Iraqi legislation in order to empower the position of women in Iraq.
For security reasons activities of Mosul Center for women in distress have been contemporarily suspended in 2004 . Programs will be restarted as soon as general security conditions will be improved.
The city of Mosul in Northern Iraq has been a stronghold of the Ba’ath regime. Still, Ba’athists and jashs (Kurdish collaborators) in Mosul regret the fall of the dictatorship. Despite its secular and modern image, Ba’athism imposed, in fact, cruel practices against women. Islamists also have power in Mosul. Therefore, women in Mosul are in particularly difficult conditions.
WADI began the preparation to open a shelter for women in Mosul in 2003, right after the liberation of Iraq . A suitable building was found in autumn 2003 and renovated by the assistance of German World women’s prayer day. The center opened in January 2004. The center’s staffs represent the groups in Mosul’s population and include Kurdish, Arab and Christian women that had been locally recruited. They have worked in close cooperation with NAWA Center and KHANZAD.
The illiteracy rate in Mosul’s female population is very high. Many women, who lost their husbands in the wars and fighting between the Iraqi army and Kurdish peschmergas or because of terrorism, must earn their living on their own. The empowerment of women in Mosul is thus particularly important. It is, however, extremely difficult due to the influence of Ba’asiths and Islamists in the city. Under the specific conditions of Mosul of Islamists` areas. In these challenging conditions, the women’s center in Mosul offered the same program as NAWA Center and KHANZAD. The program was planned to be extended to nearby schools.
Between January and August 2004, 117 women benefited from the center’s activities. In January 2005, the center’s activities were temporarily suspended because of terrorism and general insecurity in Mosul. The center is planned to reopen as soon as Mosul´s security situation will be improved.
3) Mobile Female Health Teams
WADI supports female led mobile teams in Suleymaniah, Kirkuk, Arbil, Halabja, Hauraman and Garmyan districts.
Mobile teams include Iraqi medical assistants, female doctors, social workers, lawyers and supervisors. Big parts of Northern Iraqi female population live in isolated villages, where neither medical supply nor education is accessible. Therefore, WADI’s mobile teams arrive at the village and provide these women medical and psychological support and health education.
The mobile teams continued work during war times and assisted more than 40 000 women and children until 2003. They visit daily women and children in different areas, offer basic health services, inform them about women’s rights, women’s health, education and women’s problems. Women in distress are assisted, and if necessary brought to a hospital or women’s center. Research about female victims of Ba’athism, Anfal widows and female led families has been conducted.
One of the mobile teams focuses on Hauraman region which had been controlled by the group Ansar-al-Aslam, a Taliban-like organization. Their rule deprived women from all fundamental rights. WADI’s assistance program in Hauraman area includes two centers in Byara and Tawela, opened in 2004.
The teams in Kirkuk are mixed in order to support Kurdish-Arabic-Turkmen cooperation in the city. Their work is part of a larger plan to establish women centers and shelters in Kirkuk in cooperation with women’s organizations and the existing shelters supported by WADI.
In 2004 female led mobile teams began to operate in the Garmyan region, supported by the Roselo Foundation. They were the base of the opening of Garmyan women center in Kifri.
The teams in Garmyan have discovered through their work that female genital mutilation is widespread in Northern Iraq. This led WADI to initiate a large pilot project against female genital mutilation (FGM). A study on the practice of FGM in the region has shown that 907 out of 1544 women in Garmyan interviewed or examined by the mobile team were victims of FGM. The engagement of Garmyan mobile team was the base of WADI´s campaign against FGM.
Two films against FGM were prepared by Garmyan mobile team in cooperation with local cinema directors.
Two additional mobile teams were built, which dedicate their work to a large campaign against FGM in Hauraman, Halabja, Arbil, Kerkuk and Garmyan region. The teams inform the women about risks and consequences of FGM, show the film and discuss FGM with the women. In February 2006 the first Iraqi conference against FGM was organized by WADI in Arbil. The campaign has been constantly expanded. In spring 2007, the „STOP FGM in Kurdistan“-campaign has been launched, so far with huge success.
4) Women Centers
Focusing on long-term empowerment of women and democratic reconstruction of Iraq, WADI supports several independent women centers in Halabja, Hauraman and Garmyan region. Under the Ba’ath-dictatorship, Iraqi women were discriminated and excluded from social life, education and health care.
Ba’ath politics and laws enforced violence against female population. To date, high rates of women suffer domestic violence and post war-traumatism. Women and children are those who suffer the most from general situation in Iraq . The liberation of Iraq allowed local independent NGO’s to form and operate. In a society where the roles of women are entirely domestic, there was no public sphere for women to meet and discuss their problems. The independent women’s centers, supported by WADI, offer women a place to meet and develop. In the centers, women have free access to education, vocational training, awareness courses, medical assistance, and psycho-social consultancy. During the period of the constitutional referendum and election of 2005, gender specific courses about Iraqi election system and politics were offered to female population.
The first center opened in Halabja in 2004, followed by the opening of Hauraman women centers in 2004 and Kifri women center in 2005. Further women centers are planned.
a) Halabja Women Center
Halabja has 125 000 inhabitants and is located of the border with Iran . Throughout the 1980s it was harshly repressed Saddam’s regime and was bombarded with chemical weapons in 1988 by the Iraqi army. From the 90s till 2003, the city was under the rule of Islamists depriving women of human rights and forcing them to live according to Islamist law. In addition, Islamists propaganda was spreading hatred against democracy, the West and its values of freedom. Even now after the Islamists rule collapsed, their ideology has remained in the minds. Our women center was opened 2004 upon a strong request from the community.
The center is run by locally recruited female social workers and regularly visited by WADI´s mobile teams. Victims of domestic violence get socio-psychological assistance and are supervised. Halabja women center offers a large program of literacy courses, vocational trainings and awareness courses. Women can borrow books, newspapers and magazines in the library. Social events such as parties or picnics are regularly organized by the women. The mobile team spreads awareness about FGM and discusses this dangerous practice with women and girls. Some women also come to the center in order to meet other women, cook together and discuss their problems in daily life.
In the first 6 months of the year 2006, more than 600 women benefited from courses in Halabja women center. More than 20 women participated in Halabja women center’s psycho-social consultancy. Since the center in Halabja is even more popular than expects, a second one will be opened in autumn 2006, in order to meet the local demand for its services. The centers program can then be expanded.
With help of the Austrian Development Agency and Roselo Foundation, WADI is able to run the center during 2007.
b) Byara Women Center (Hauraman Region)
In the past 20 years, Hauraman region has known war, massacres and then Islamist occupation. Hauraman was heavily attacked in the Anfal campaign – the central military campaign of the Iraqi regime against the Kurdish population.
After the gas-attack on nearby Halabja, thousands of civilians were killed or deported and villages were razed. The whole region was heavily mined and declared as a no-go area. In 1991 Kurds liberated themselves from Ba’ath tyranny and rebuild their region on their own. But Hauraman and Halabja region were soon occupied by Islamists that imposed a Taliban-like rule, which turned people’s life to hell, forcing them to live according to Islamists rule. Women were forced to practice female genital mutilation, to wear Islamic dresses and to stay at home. They were not allowed to attend school, or to access civil services and health care.
When WADI opened Byara women center in 2004, it offered the first place for women to learn and develop their skills. The center runs a program similar to that of Halabja women center, but also focusing on human rights training. From January to June 2006, 313 women benefited from the program of the center. In spring 2006, the center moved to a bigger building in Byara in order to welcome all Byara women wanting to participate in the program.
With help of the Austrian Development Agency and Roselo Foundation, WADI is able to run the center during 2007.
c) Kifri Women Center (Garmyan)
Garmyan region is bordering the old green line. It is one of the poorest areas of Northern Iraq. This rural area was massively destroyed by the Iraqi army during the Anfal campaign. A big part of men in the region were killed or deported to camps in central and southern Iraq. Villages were destroyed to the ground and the whole region was mined. Thousands of women and children were killed or deported. After the liberation in 1991, Anfal widows and a few surviving men came back to rebuild their villages. In the past, WADI conducted several studies about Anfal widows and held a large assistance program for women and children.
Today, WADI’s Mobile teams provide women and children with medical and socio-psychological assistance. In cooperation with the local women’s organization Komalla Afretan , WADI opened a library for women and girls in the city of Kifri in 1995. At that time, Kifri was surrounded by the Iraqi army from three sides. The library was first meeting place for Kifri´s women. Up to 15 women visited the library a day to meet, socialize and discuss their problems. Lectures and conferences about gender specific subjects were regularly organized by a local board of women.
In 2005 WADI opened Kifri women center in cooperation with local women’s organizations. The Kifri women center is supported by Women’s World Day of Prayer Austria. The center offers a gender specific program of literacy courses and vocational trainings similar to those in Halabja and Byara women centers. Since December 2005, women also have the possibility to attend English courses. The women empowerment program is complimented by mobile team assistance in the region and first-aid –courses open to men and women in Garmyan’s villages. Garmyan’s infrastructure and health system is very bad. Most isolated villages have no access to health care. Mobile teams’ assistance is extremely important in this region. WADI Garmyan is one of the most active and important pillars of WADI´s campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM), which is widespread in Northern Iraq.
5) Radio Dangi Nwe – a Community Radio for Halabja and Hauraman region
Although different independent media exist in Northern Iraq since almost a decade, the idea of community based radio stations is new.
In co-operation with ACDI-Voca and the Spanish Radio Gladys Palmera WADI encouraged and supported the establishment of an independent community radio station for women and juveniles in Halabja and Hauraman region. After intensive preparation, the media channel for women and youngsters was opened in Halabja in 2005. The program of Radio Dangi Nwe is autonomously prepared by young Halabian women and men that have participated in WADI’s women empowerment programs before, and are familiar with local problems of youngsters and female population. The radio provides the region with independent news, music, entertainment and reports about gender – and youth specific society problems, such as human rights, democracy, domestic violence, partnership, divorce, forced marriages, FGM and “honor killings”. Female reporters inform about health care, pregnancy, contraception and childcare.
Radio Dangi Nwe empowers women and youth by focusing on:
- distributing independent and community relevant information
- raising awareness about daily problems of youth and women
- transforming public opinion towards women’s rights
- representing women and youngsters
- giving a voice to women’s experiences
- integrating women and youth peacefully in community based networks
- motivating and encouraging youth and women in taking active part in community life, public debates and decision making process.
- raising public awareness and knowledge about society problems, such as partnership, marriage, divorce, FGM and human rights.
- raising public awareness about women and youth specific problems, such as women’s rights, contraception, pregnancy and child care.
With support of the Roselo Foundation, ACDI/VOCA and the Austrian Development Agency, broadcasting will be guaranteed for 2007.
6) Community Radio Station for Women in the Jordan Valley
The Jordan Valley in the south of the country borders Israel and was traditionally populated by Bedouins. Agriculture is the main source of income, the unemployment rate is extremely high and neither education nor public services are sufficient in this region.
Farming communities are among the poorest of the poor in Jordan. 45% of Jordan valley women work as farmers for long time hours, beside there responsibilities to take care about there family, on other hand the men used to not work in the farms and get the money from there wife’s, some men have four wife’s and managed to keep them work in the farms with low salaries or to go daily from their village to Amman for selling the vegetables, eggs, fruits etc…
Women do not alone carry the economical burden to keep the households. They have almost no chance to get basic education not to speak about awareness concerning health, women’s rights or sexuality. No mechanisms do exist to solve family conflicts and women do not know about their basic rights. Violence against women up to so called Honor Killings are widespread. A lot of women and girls are illiterate and lack any chance for further empowerment.
Under these conditions, the need for a local women radio station in Jordan valley can’t be underestimated. There are for example no local communication tools between the women and there local community. Except of some small centers no places do exist, where women can promote the idea of self-empowerment, meeting and implementing democratically structured projects in order to transform their society.
WADI already made good experiences with the community Radio „Dangi Nwe“ in Northern Iraq. Radio proved as a real effective and easy way of addressing a variety of topics that are relevant for women and their strive for equality, a better life and participation in community affairs.
So, with support of WADI and aided by Woman’s World Day of Prayer Germany and the German embassy in Amman, the women radio station was established and is on air now since November 19th, 2006. The team consists of women from the region, committed to their community, from 18-26 years old. In preparation, the radio group joined journalistic courses as well as technical trainings. One of the first challenges was the restriction from families that opposed the idea of letting their daughters to go to Amman for training and attending conferences.
7) Campaigning against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Iraqi women are subjected to strict moral code that dominates their patriarchal society. Most of these rules of social control are an unspoken and deeply-rooted code of rules of behavior. Domestic violence, forced marriages and “honor killings” are the common reality of women in Northern Iraq . They are dependent on their male relatives and subjected to their will. This reality hasn’t been publicly discussed and thousands of women suffer in silence. The rate of suicides committed by women in Northern Iraq is very high.
Female Genital Mutilation, like sexuality in general was considered an absolute taboo. In 2004, WADI Garmyan mobile teams succeeded to break the silence and discovered that female genital mutilation is widespread in Northern Iraq. A pilot study gave evidence that 907 out of 1544 questioned women were victims of FGM. FGM was considered an “African practice”. The staffs of WADI Garmyan’s were indeed shocked by their discovery. They initiated a large campaign against FGM.
WADI´s campaign against FGM is the first large program against female genital mutilation in Iraq. Local mobile teams found out that FGM in Northern Iraq is usually practiced by female family members or traditional midwives on girls aged between 4 to 12 years. Instruments like razors and knives are used to cut girls’ clitoris according to the “sunnat- excision”. The wound is usually covered by ashes, but no drugs are given. Sometimes girls have to sit into a bowl of icy water. Women justify this practice either by religion, tradition or medical reasons. Uncircumcised girls are not allowed to serve water or meals. Many women said that their daughter would not be able to be married uncircumcised. Most of the women are not aware of the long-term medical and psychological consequences of FGM. Many girls die because of the operation. FGM is practiced by Muslims, Christians and Kakeys. To date, there is no information about FGM and Yezidi and Jewish community in Iraq.
The major reason for the persistence is the lack of education and information among the women population that is mostly illiterate. In addition, sexual education is generally not provided to girls and boys by their parents. Youngsters generally marry without any kind of information about sexuality.
WADI prepared two awareness films about FGM in close cooperation with local cinema directors and women’s organizations. One film is used to spread awareness in Iraqi population. A second film will be shown in Europe in 2006 in order to create awareness in the international community. The film is daily shown to women in Arbil, Kerkuk, Suleymaniah, Halabja, Hauraman and Garmyan region by mobile teams in order to provide information and education. After the educational film, social workers and nurses of WADI´s mobile teams discuss FGM with the women. The women are invited to ask questions. Special leaflets are distributed and the visited villages take part in a follow-up-program.
WADI organized the first Iraqi conference against FGM in Arbil in February 2006 and succeeded to attract Kurdish Regional Government’s (KRG) interest. The subject will be soon discussed by the Kurdish Regional Government. In spring 2006, additional mobile teams were set in order expand the campaign and fight FGM in Northern Iraq. Until 2006, more than 4000 women took part in WADI´s campaign against FGM. Supported by the Swiss Caritas, the Austrian Development Agency, the Roselo Foundation and the Iraqi Civil Society Program, five teams are currently working all over Kurdistan, informing on the grave physical and psychological injuries that result from FGM. Moreover, they are about to prepare a broad scientific study about causes and prevalence of this practice in Northern Iraq.
WADI’s „STOP FGM in Kurdistan“-campaign is running well now since spring 2007. A coordination bureau will be established in Arbil soon.
8) Rebuilding Democracy in Iraq
The Iraqi people were forced to live for decades under dictatorship, war, facing genocide and all kinds of cruelty. More than 50% of Iraqi Kurds are illiterate. They have never had the chance to live in a democratic state. The liberation of Iraq was the base for rebuilding democratic Iraq. Since 2003, several local organizations and independent media were opened. WADI supports local NGOs in their work to advance democracy. Lectures about democracy and human rights are offered by WADI´s women centers and mobile teams in order to empower democracy and to widespread information amongst female population and youth.
During referendum and election time, special election courses were held for preparing female population to democracy. WADI participated actively in referendum and election monitoring. A report and recommendation were given to Iraqi Government. The program is going to be extended. Since 2006, WADI has supported DHRD Suleymaniah (Democracy and Human rights Development organization). DHRD focuses particularly on judiciary and human rights.
9) Assistance for Refugees
WADI supports Iranian refugees living in refugee camp Dscheschnikan next to Arbil.
The population has no access to health care or electricity. Clean water is not always available.
The general living conditions are very low. Especially women and children suffer from this situation. WADI’s mobile team provides medical and psycho-social assistance to female population and children. A large program of vocational trainings is offered to the community. In summer 2005, women took part in sewing and hairdressing workshops in order to build up own business. The project is operating in close cooperation with Komalla Afretan Arbil.
10) Prisoners Projects
Since 1995, WADI has supported prisoners by providing them with medical assistance and education programs in order to encourage their reintegration into society. The program focuses on youngsters and female prisoners. Iraqi law doesn’t protect women and children from imprisonment. Children can be imprisoned once they are 7 years old. Iraq doesn’t respect international children convention. Most women are imprisoned for being suspected to be prostitutes, or for having revenged domestic violence and forced marriages.
In 1995 WADI conducted a successful campaign against capital punishment for women. Since then Since then WADI has supported prisoners in women’s and youth prison of Arbil and Suleymaniah. The youngsters and women participate in hairdressing and sewing workshops, handicraft and literacy courses as well as carpeting, blacksmith workshop, English and computer courses. Women released from prison get assistance to open their own shops. WADI financed literacy classes, health care, workshops and libraries where prisoners can find books, newspapers and magazines.
In 1998, WADI started a large-scale program for male prisoners in Suleymaniah prison. Computer courses, carpentry and blacksmith workshop were organized, and literacy and English courses were opened. In 1999 WADI encouraged and supported the foundation of a culturally oriented group called Horizon. Horizon publishes a newspaper in the prison. In 2000, they published a book containing prisoners’ articles about issues concerning Kurdish public.
- Women’s libraries
In 1995, WADI supported the opening of a women’s library in Kifri, where women could borrow books, cook together and discuss their problems. This was the first public place where women in Kifri could meet. Literacy courses and lectures about gender specific subjects were given. When Kifri women center was opened in 2005, the library was integrated into the center.
- Assistance for Internally Displaced People (IDP’s)
WADI built three Kindergartens serving the children of IDP families in the collective towns of Bazian and Bainjan and inside an IDP inhabited quarter of Suleymaniah. Most of these IDPs were victims of the Ba’ath regime’s “arabization politics” (bitte Link zur Erklärung Arabisierungspolitik) in Kirkuk area. These Kindergartens are now under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education since 1996. Until 1999 WADI continued to finance one hot meal for every child.
WADI also assisted deserters from the Iraqi army in providing them shelter and food in Suleymaniah and ran some workshops for Arab women in Chaklawa. Workshops and training courses for Anfal widows, IDPs and disabled persons were offered in Kalar, Kifri, Chamchamal, Bazian, Halabja and Suleymaniah.
- Tawela Women Center
Tawela is situated in Hauraman region near the Iranian border. (bitte Link zur Byaraerklärung auf dieser Seite ) The region was destroyed by Anfal campaign (bitte Link zur Anfalerklärung) by the Iraqi government. Thousands of people died or had to flee. When the region was liberated in 1991, people came back and rebuilt their houses. However, they couldn’t enjoy freedom for a long time, because Islamist occupied the region. Ansar-al-Aslam, terrorist group linked to Al-Qaida, imposed an Islamist rule and forced the population to live according to Islam. Especially female population suffered under this situation, being deprived of health care and essential human rights.
WADI started preparation of an independent women center in the villages of Tawela and Byara right after the liberation of the region from Ansar-al-Aslam in 2003. In 2004, Tawela women center was opened and a large program of literacy courses, medical and psycho-social assistance and vocational trainings were implemented. Women participated in hairdressing and computer workshops, in sewing and handicraft classes. The mobile team offered them assistance and provided them with lectures about democracy and female specific subjects. This center was the first project of its kind in Tawela and the only place where women could meet and discuss their problems freely. Women were completely excluded from social life. In 2005, WADI´s campaign against FGM was extended to Tawela women center. FGM is even more widespread in Hauraman region than in other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan.
From January to May 2006, 207 women participated in courses, vocational trainings and campaign against FGM. As general security situation in Tawela had improved, many local and international NGOs have started to build up projects in Tawela since 2005. This is why WADI decided to transfer the women’s projects to the responsibility of a local NGOs and to stop supporting Tawela women center in may 2006, in order to empower female population in other Iraqi regions. Since may 2006, Tawela takes part in WADI´s Follow-up-program.
- Legal Aid Program (LAP)
After decades of dictatorship and war, Iraq’s juridical system has to be rebuilt democratically from the beginning. Though substantial chances have been achieved by new constitution, legal provisions from Ba’ath legislation remain. Especially penal law is still largely influenced the by Ba’ath era. Legal gaps and shortcomings become visible especially in a judicial practice, where the rights of the defendants and the regulation of fair process are often being ignored. In many cases, legal staff – judges as well as state attorneys – lacks sufficient training. Particularly in the pre-trial phase, executive powers regularly fail to satisfy provisions of due process. Since 2004, various local lawyers’ organizations and NGOs work on the democratization of Iraqi judiciary and the advancement of human rights. WADI supports these organizations and cooperates with DHRD (Democracy and Human rights development organization).
The Legal aid program (LAP) is an independent network of lawyers, judges, and legal professionals. Propaganda for a specific political party, flaunting with party symbols or portraits of political leaders inside the LAP is strictly prohibited. LAP is co-operating with local authorities but remains independent. LAP is not part of the administrational body or official program of the Kurdish government or any other Kurdish authority. LAP is monitored by DHRD and WADI. LAP aims to rebuild independent Iraqi judiciary by court watching and specialized trainings for local lawyers and judges.
- Empowerment for Juveniles
In 2006, the average age of the population in Northern Iraq is 19. There is still a lack of specific youth programs and local media focus on youngsters. Iraqi youth has never seen democracy and free media providing them with independent information until now. WADI is supporting the preparation of an independent Iraqi-Kurdistan wide youth magazine that will provide youth with information about politics, science, health, education and social problems. The colored magazine will also offer news about music, fashion and culture. Consultancy will be included and youngsters can ask their personal questions. Northern Iraqi youth will be will be active in the program of the magazine. Iraqi trainees will participate in special journalist and manager trainings in order to be able to prepare the magazine autonomously. The magazine is meant to create awareness and education. The magazine will also focus on gender in order to empower female population. Youth programs are going to be intensified.
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