Mobile Women-Led Aid Teams

Since 2003, WADI supports women-led mobile teams who operate in remote areas of the regions of Mosul, Arbil, Suleymaniyah, Halabja, Pishder, Qandil and Garmyan. The mobile teams include local medical staff who provide ambulant treatment, and social workers or psychologists who assist women in social and psychogical needs. Some teams are accompagnied by a lawyer who provides legal consultation and basic information on women’s rights. Only the driver of a team is male.

A large part of the women in northern Iraq lives in isolated villages, where neither medical services nor education is accessible. Therefore, WADI’s mobile teams head for the villages with off-road vehicles and provide these women medical and psychological support and health-education. The mobile teams visit women and children in different areas, provide basic health services and inform them about women’s rights, women’s health, educational and legal problems. Women in distress are assisted, and if necessary brought to a hospital or a women’s shelter. The members of the mobile teams conducted research about women victims of Ba’athism and the Anfal widows.

In 2004, the women-led mobile teams began to operate in the Garmyan region, supported by the Roselo Foundation. Their work enabled the opening of Garmyan women center in Kifri. In 2003, the teams in Garmyan discovered through their work that female genital mutilation (FGM) is widespread in northern Iraq. This led WADI to initiate a large pilot project against female genital mutilation. Since then, the focal point of the mobile teams’ work has gradually shifted from providing medical care to anti-FGM awareness training.

The underlying idea to meet the women where they live, is simple and striking. The teams provide medical help (treatment, medicine and sanitary goods), life coaching and practical help for women in distress on the one hand while discussing matters of sexuality and especially FGM on the other. While FGM is at the core of the sessions, practical help and psychological support are indispensable as well. All teams work in close collaboration with local women centers and rescue shelters. From 2004 till 2011 the mobile teams conducted 1216 visits to villages and towns. They have met with 26,410 women and girls.