In Iraq, this period also signifies one month since the Mosul operations began on October 17th, 2016. To date, more than 70,000 individuals have been displaced with an anticipated 1.2 million expected as the operations continue. An estimated half of the current and anticipated IDPs from the Mosul conflict are women, girls, and female-headed households. Women and girls fleeing Mosul have survived unimaginable abuses including sexual abuse, forced child marriages, being used as human shields, and other human rights abuses.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in her “Price of No Change is Unacceptable” statement for the International Day to End Violence Against Women states, “Women and girls who experience violence lose their dignity, they live in fear and pain, and in the worst cases they pay with their lives. Violence cuts deeply into the liberties we should all have: the right to be safe at home, the right to walk safely on the streets, the right to go to school, to work…” Unfortunately, violence has been the daily reality of women and girls under ISIS occupation in Mosul who have been imprisoned in their homes, told what to wear, stripped of their livelihoods, raped, forced to induct children in the ISIS school curriculum that emphasized guns and bombs, and, some women have been executed for their political aspirations. The aforementioned has been shared by recent IDPs who have fled Mosul through the Voice for Dignity in our humanity series, where UN Women Iraq is sharing the voice of women and girl survivors of ISIS rule in Mosul.
Dr. Paulina Chiwangu, UN Women Iraq Deputy Country Representative, OIC, states that, “The UN Women Leadership, Empowerment, Access to Protection in Crisis (LEAP) and Women Peace and Security (WPS) programs are in Iraq to ensure that all women and girls in conflict situations are able to achieve their full aspirations. UN Women is thankful for the generous support of our donors, the Government of Japan and Government of Finland, for these programs”. She further states that, “UN Women has been assisting women and girl survivors of Mosul through distribution of urgent necessity kits and proposing the establishment of multipurpose listening centers but this is only possible with additional funding given the dire needs of women and girls.”
As part of the 16 days campaign which is launching worldwide today to end violence against women, UN Women Iraq will be highlighting issues of IDPs through two events. The first is a consultative workshop in collaboration with the government and civil society on the theme of “Ending Violence and Rebuilding Lives of Women and Girls during and in the aftermath of the Mosul Operations” and the second is a conference in partnership with Women’s Empowerment Organization on the theme of “Stronger Together: Men and Boys partnership in ending violence against women and girls”.
Worldwide for 16 days of activism, UN Women and partner organizations will “Orange the World” to end violence against women. Orange symbolizes a hopeful and optimistic future for women and girls that is free from violence.