By Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative – December 2017

After nine months of continuous work, including holding seminars, focus groups and providing legal advice to women human rights defenders through the legal clinic in the Shahrazad Center, the activities of the Shahrazad Project concluded with the Shahrazad Conference on 16 December 2017 at the Oil Cultural Center in Baghdad. 100 journalists, activists and members of civil society attended the conference, including the Italian free-lance journalist, Sara Manisera, and the General Director of Women’s Empowerment Department of the Iraqi Council of Ministers Dr. Ibtisam Aziz Ali.
The conference opened with a detailed report on the activities that Shahrazad carried out over the course of 2017, followed by a speech by the Project Manager, Tabarak Wameedh, in which she described the goals of the Shahrazad project for the coming year. She reviewed all that Shahrazad had completed in previous years, activities which focused primarily on studying the most effective ways to provide legal and field protection to journalists and women human rights defenders in Iraq. In addition to identifying these critical strategies, Shahrazad also worked to develop networks of international solidarity and drew world attention to the problems of WHRD’s and women activists in Iraq.

In April 2017, the Shahrazad project opened the “Tech4Shahrazad” digital clinic, dedicated to providing advice about the protection of online information and data. While the clinic was aimed primarily to help WHRDs, it is available to all Iraqi women, raising awareness about ways to improve digital protection and avoid the dangers of misusing social media (check online how to access its services).
The conference included many productive discussions and made time for questions to encourage open dialogue about the projects and events implemented by Shahrazad throughout 2017. Some participants wondered about the possibility of expanding the Shahrazad project by preparing seminars, dialogues and focus groups in other governorates. Expanding its reach will be a goal of Shahrazad project in the future.

Nibras Al Mamory, president of IWJF, explained to the conference attendees that the Shahrazad project aimed to provide services to all women across Iraq, not only WHRD’s in Baghdad. The presence of the Italian journalist Sarah Manisera was very important; she met with many Iraqi women — lawyers, journalists and others — and discussed their decision-making practices. She asked many questions about the current status of women, wanting clarification on their economic, social and educational situations, and its impact on the future of women in Iraq. Based on the information she gathered she plans to write a report about WHRDs in Iraq that will be published in an international newspaper.
This conference is the last activity within the Shahrazad Project during 2017. It was implemented by the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum and in cooperation with Un Ponte Per … and the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative.