In partnership with MADRE, a US-based women's NGO, Mercy Hands has just completed the implementation of a six-month project titled "Futures Without Violence: Enhancing Women's Peace and Security in Iraq". The project was launched on October 1, 2022, and was completed on March 31, 2023.
The project primarily targeted four districts in Baghdad: Yosefeyah, Abu Ghraib, Karkh, and Resafah. Its aims were to improve gender balance and increase women's representation in post-conflict governance, promote women's economic and social rights, and incorporate gender budgeting into all post-conflict financing arrangements. It also aimed to empower female youth to challenge cultural and social norms and become more engaged in society. The project generated evidence-based data on the status of women's situation regarding peace and security and provided technical and knowledge support to local women and girls' gender machinery, civil society organizations, and women leaders in the community to advocate for women's participation in peace and security. It also promoted intergroup dialogue sessions, community consultation sessions, and social projects to build a more peaceful and inclusive society. The project will be sustainable by strengthening the capacity of women and girls to achieve gender equality commitments and address women's priorities in response and resilience planning.
The project had four outcomes: 1) conducting four roundtable discussions on the Anti-Domestic Violence Law and women's Peace and Security; 2) producing and broadcasting two webcasts that promote women’s peace and security in Iraq and women’s participation in peacebuilding; 3) conducting a community awareness-raising campaign by distributing 4,000 brochures in the four targeted districts; and 4) conducting a proposal writing training workshop for NGO members of two women's networks: the Network of Anti-Trafficking of Women in Iraq (NATWI) and the Iraqi Network for Resolution 1325 (1325 Network).
The project organized four roundtable discussions at different locations to discuss the Anti-Domestic Violence Law and its implementation. The discussions were held at Bait Al-Hikma, the College of Mass Communication-University of Baghdad, Lawyers for Women headquarters, and the Iraqi BAR Association. A total of 103 participants attended the debates, including both men and women from various segments of society, such as NGOs, lawyers, local authorities, and law officials. The debates were documented with video recordings, pre/post-tests, attendance records, and evaluation forms. The majority of the audience supported the Domestic Violence Law and recommended legal amendments to reduce cases of battered women.
Bait Al-Hikma was selected to host one of the roundtable discussions because it is known to be a hub for intellectuals and political activists in Baghdad. Twenty-four participants attended (13 men and 11 women). The discussions were fierce as the roundtable was headed by one man who was against the new draft legislation of the Anti-Domestic Violence Law and one woman who was in favor of it.
The participants of the roundtable discussion, which was organized at the College of Mass Communication - University of Baghdad, were prominent media, women, and civil society activists. Some of them were in favor of the draft law, while others were against it. Mercy Hands facilitated the dialogue and debate between the two sides and advanced the discussions. At the end of the discussion, the two sides reached an agreement on many issues.
Another roundtable discussion was hosted by Lawyers for Women (NGO) in Baghdad, where the participants were prominent lawyers, women, and civil society activists, as well as representatives from relevant governmental agencies. Some of them were in favor of the draft law, while others were against it.
The Iraqi Bar Association hosted another roundtable discussion under the auspices of its president, Ms. Ahlam Al-Lami. The participants were prominent lawyers, women, and civil society activists, as well as representatives from relevant governmental agencies.
The webcast "Futures without Violence" was produced by Mercy Hands' affiliate, Seventh Sense for Media and Art Production. The first episode of the webcast discusses the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, focusing on historical facts and figures about the resolution and its impact on promoting women's rights worldwide. The "Futures without Violence" webcast is part of a project with the same name, which was produced by Mercy Hands in partnership with MADRE and in cooperation with the Iraqi Network for UNSCR 1325.
In the second episode of the webcast, an overview of Iraq's National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 was provided.
Mercy Hands coordinated with the local authorities to conduct a community awareness campaign in the four targeted districts in Baghdad. We also coordinated with the Iraqi Community Police to identify the areas in these four districts with the highest rate of domestic violence cases. Our field staff distributed a total of 4000 brochures on households and local businesses in the targeted areas. The brochures included messages on the Anti-domestic Violence Law and available resources for survivors of domestic violence. Moreover, Mercy Hands included the Women's Empowerment Department in Baghdad Governorate in the awareness campaign as part of the project sustainability plan and to amplify the impact of the community awareness campaign.
Mercy Hands in collaboration with its affiliate, Eduba Center conducted the proposal writing training at Eduba's office in Baghdad. Participants from different NGOs participated in the training, which aimed at improving staff capacity around proposal writing. The training included a lot of valuable and interactive information, group exercises and case studies.