Women for Women International has served women survivors of war in Iraq since 2003, supporting Iraqi, Kurdish, Syrian and Yezidi women.

Our local staff use their knowledge of the impact of conflict on Iraq to address the needs of women. Through our social and economic empowerment training, Iraqi women are finding their power and rebuilding their lives. 

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Country Profile - Iraq

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Women's rights in Iraq

Political tension and violence, a weakened economy and mass displacement continues to destabilise Iraq following the war in 2003, and the rise of ISIS in the years following.

During the enforced control of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), women were abducted and subjected to physical and sexual violence as the terrorist organisation targeted ethnic and religious minority groups for persecution and genocide.

Following the destabilisation of ISIS’ control in Iraq and Syria, Iraq faces a displacement crisis. Iraqi civilians displaced by ISIS and refugees escaping the war in Syria contribute to the country’s number of men, women and children forced to leave their homes.

  • After the breakdown of ISIS’ control over Iraq and Syria, women account for the majority of 1.2 million displaced persons struggling to rebuild their lives in the aftermath.
  • In rebuilding their lives, women face discrimination and patriarchal norms, limiting their social and economic opportunities as they are expected to assume traditional roles.
  • For women refugees and the internally displaced, life in their host communities and refugee camps hinders their opportunity to receive an education or participate in income-generating activities.

Iraqis have had enough of chaos and conflict. It’s time to reconstruct this country, to bring peace and the right conditions for women and marginalised groups to rebuild their lives.

Aram Shakerm, Country Director of Women for Women International - Iraq



of women in the programme have no formal education

Data collected in 2022.

7.4 %

of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years have undergone Female Genital Mutilation

Source: UNICEF.

27.9 %

of women were married before the age of 18

Source: UNICEF

Our work in Iraq

Since 2003, Women for Women International has worked on the ground in Iraq, reaching Iraqi, Kurdish, Syrian and Yezidi women

Our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme supports women as they build knowledge of their rights, develop businesses and vocational skills, and join networks of support and advocacy.

We also believe the inclusion of male family members and peers is crucial to break gender norms and achieve gender equality. For this reason, local staff lead our Men’s Engagement Programme in Iraq. Through topics on the specific barriers women face in and beyond the household, men are guided through how they can support women’s equality in economic and social contexts. 

Programme participant and her family. Photo: Alison Baskerville
Programme participant and her family. Photo: Alison Baskerville

Impact of your support

Creating real change

  • Women averaged a score of 93% on a test measuring their knowledge of violence against women and human rights in a national context, compared to 77% at enrollment.
  • Women averaged a score of 73% on a test measuring their knowledge of health and well-being compared to 52% at enrollment.
  • 12% of women reported that at least one household member ate a smaller meal than usual in the past four weeks due to limited resources, compared to 30% at enrollment.

Data collected from Women for Women International programme participants in 2022.

Jihan, a graduate of our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme with her daughters.Photo: Alison Baskerville
Jihan, a graduate of our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme with her daughters.Photo: Alison Baskerville

I would like for every woman to be free. And no one to be oppressed. No woman should be oppressed and feel that she doesn’t exist.

Jihan, Programme Graduate, Women for Women International - Iraq

Syrian Refugees in Iraq

Stories of Strength and Resilience

We work with Syrian refugee women in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) to empower them with the knowledge, skills and support they need to rebuild their lives after the devastation of war.

Watch this video to meet two strong and inspiring refugee women from Syria: Zubeida, our Stronger Women, Stronger Nations programme graduate and Nermin, who works for Women for Women International in Iraq.

Stories from Iraq



Unable to find work as a refugee, Shireen desperately wanted to learn a new skill that could help her provide for her family. Shireen learnt how to sew, but she gained more than the ability to make clothes: she learnt about her worth and value as a woman.



Our neighbour knocked at the door and asked ‘Why are you not escaping?’ She told us that they are kidnapping girls and killing men, so we decided to run away and not take anything with us.



The friendly environment at the training centre and connections I made with other women changed my life.

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With your support, we can help more women survivors of war and conflict transform their lives and reach their full potential.

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