From where I stand: Yanar Mohammed


Yanar Mohammed. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

The situation is very grim in Iraq. We run into many young women who have run away from their homes, who have been trapped by a trafficking group who have put them in brothels, who want to escape to have a better life, and they cannot go back home because they will be killed. Millions of women are being displaced in Iraq at this moment. They are vulnerable to trafficking because of poverty and having to feed their children.

We also have extreme violence against women under ISIS. We try to deal with all of it; we do outreach to women [in areas where ISIS is active] and we are getting ready to open a new series of shelters. When women stay in our shelters, in the beginning we take care of them, but eventually it’s about empowerment and political awareness, and we try to help them to become human rights activists and leaders in their community.

If there is a time in our history where we need UN Security Council resolution 1325, it’s this moment. It speaks about protection, empowerment, then legislation, then representation.”

SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Yanar Mohammed, 55, founded the Organization of Women’s Freedom in 2003, to keep vulnerable Iraqi women safe and secure by providing shelters and support. She spoke on behalf of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security in October 2015, on the 15-year anniversary of the ground-breaking resolution 1325. Her work is directly related to Sustainable Development Goal 16, which seeks to ensure peace and justice by significantly reducing all forms of violence and related death rates everywhere; and SDG 5, which aims to ensure women’s full and effective participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making.

Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.