A Decade of Change for Women in Iraq: Nadia’s Story

Nadia is a divorced woman living in Baghdad, Iraq with her four children. Per Iraqi custom, Nadia moved back to her parent’s home after her divorce, even though two of her brothers and their families were already living in the crowded house.

As a divorced woman, Nadia’s life was very restricted. She was not allowed to leave the house unaccompanied, which meant she could not find a job to earn what she needed to meet the basic needs of her children. Despite her qualifications from the Baghdad Technology Institute, her family insisted that she stay at home and raise her children.

After several attempts to set up businesses at home, Nadia heard about an International Medical Corps-supported Women’s Center in Baghdad. She convinced her family that this was a respectable place to work and applied to became a trainer at the Center. As soon as she arrived, the International Medical Corps team recognised that Nadia would be an inspirational trainer. She has now spent more than two years working in the Center, training women on issues like gender rights and livelihood activities to increase the income of women in the community.

Today, Nadia manages the Women’s Center, leads another NGO working on women’s rights in Baghdad and is in the second year of an Engineering degree at University. Nadia is also a candidate in the upcoming elections for the Baghdad Provincial Council.

With the support of International Medical Corps, Nadia has helped hundreds of vulnerable women, building a sustainable system of advice and support that is freely available to those in need. She has become famous as one of Iraq’s most successful women’s rights activists.

Nadia commented, “I cannot ever forget what International Medical Corps did for me to change my life. My children, my boys and girls, have returned to school, and I am now able to provide them with most of the things they need.”

Wassan Khalid, Women Empowerment Director at International Medical Corps Iraq, noted, “It is important for women and men in Iraq to change their attitudes about what women can achieve, particularly women who have been divorced or widowed. Changing beliefs is not quick or easy, but people like Nadia are a great inspiration.”

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