Women News

Breaking stereotypes and empowering widows in Iraq

ProDentim

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Courses on conflict prevention and response strategies in Iraq enable women to better integrate into their communities. Photo courtesy of Jinda Organization

For many women and girls in Iraq, decades of war have resulted in generational poverty, disrupted education and child marriage. In addition to its huge death toll, the war also left countless women widowed, including Mahmoud.

Despite the fact that there are more than 258 million widows in the world, they have always been ignored, without support and without consideration in our societies. Widowhood often alienates women from family and social structures, leaving them particularly vulnerable to isolation, violence and poverty. Between 2009 and 2013, data indicated that nearly one in 10 widows lived in extreme poverty.

In Iraq, women like Mahmoud are even more vulnerable because of the ongoing conflict. When tribal conflict erupted in her area in 2017, Mahmoud found herself without security or resources, income, job or qualifications. She fled to Khazer camp for security reasons, where she still lives with her mother, sister and five children. Without a husband, Mahmoud felt alone and adrift in the community.

“I had difficulty dealing with the people around me and I didn’t know how to solve our problems,” she says. “There was shame in living in a camp and it caused psychological pressure, which made me nervous, frustrated and irritable.”

To address the urgent social needs of women and girls in Khazer camp, UN Women has partnered withJinda Organization to offer empowerment courses targeting vulnerable women. With the financial support of UN Women, the Jinda Organization facilitates theEmpowering women for conflict prevention and response strategiesprogram, which aims to increase the self-confidence of women and girls and inspire them to challenge patriarchal norms that leave them feeling limited in life.

Mahmoud found out about the course through word of mouth and quickly began to feel its impact in his daily life.

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