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The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) – May 2016

Women Human Rights Defenders in Iraq, including female journalists, unionists and activists work with human rights organizations, contribute with a significant role in the development of human rights in Iraq. However, at the same time they are exposed to the risks more than these exposed by their male counterparts. While journalists and human rights defenders in general are exposed to high security risk due to the unstable security situation, in addition to fighting terrorism and the spread of armed manifestations, likewise; women human rights defenders are facing extra risks. The reasons of those extra risks are the customs and traditions, and the narrow understanding of the religion. In Iraq, Women human rights defenders are harassed or molested or exposed to extra threat just for being female, and just for choosing to work on public affairs and on the subject of rights and freedoms. Although the Iraqi constitution prohibit discrimination and devote several articles to ensure human rights, but the reality is moving in a different direction.

For the importance of this subject, the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum opened since April of this year “Shahrazad Services Center” which aims to protect and empower women human rights defenders in Iraq, with a stronger focus on female journalists and media activists. The services of the center will include providing trainings on the capacity-building and the protection and safety of women human rights defenders, as well as providing legal and social support through opening a legal clinic inside the center. The center also aims to create a safe space for meetings to share experiences and discuss how to influence Iraqi laws, and raising social awareness and understanding, in order to provide protection for women human rights defenders in the various fields of work. The center will also produce tools for social networking that aims to involve young people in the activities to change public opinion toward women who are fighting for the defense of human rights.

Shahrazad center in Baghdad was opened within the headquarter of the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum, and the preparations began in the center for organizing the first workshop and providing weekly services include legal support and social activities.

Although Shahrazad center’s activities will be concentrated in Baghdad, but the center aspires to attract beneficiaries from all over Iraq, with a focus on the provinces that suffer from difficult security situation or the lack of sufficient attention to women human rights defenders.

The Iraqi Women Journalists Forum (IWJF), will play key role in adopting this center and providing services, in collaboration with the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) and the Italian organization Un Ponte Per … (UPP)

The center is funded by the Human Rights program of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Iraq.