Rates of violence against women have increased all over Iraq. In Baghdad, women face daily violence from occupation forces and insurgents. Tribal leadership and fundamentalist groups make it extremely difficult for women to step outside their homes without a veil, let alone go to school or seek employment.
But, the Baghdad Women’s Association (BWA) is determined to change their society. They opened “decision-making centers” where women discuss electoral campaigns and the democratic process. These centers and other BWA services, led to a monumental win: Two women who went through BWA’s training at these centers were elected to the Baghdad Provincial Council, where less than 20 percent of the members are women.
Additionally, in a recent peace building and conflict resolution training series, BWA trained 163 youth leaders, men and women, on how to discuss tolerance and conflict resolution. The group also uses media and direct services, like counseling centers, to empower community members to shift the status quo.