In the Fall of 2017, before Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), women from provinces occupied by the terrorist organization began working together across ethno-sectarian divides in order to help heal their country and prevent further conflict. Now, these women and the network they formed under the banner HerRole: Inclusive Reconciliation, Lasting Peace have published an updated edition of their roadmap, A Strategy for Peace in Iraq: A Gender-Sensitive National Reconciliation Platform.
Beginning with 40 women from Anbar, Kirkuk, Ninewa, and Salahaddin, and expanding in early 2019 to include 20 additional activists from Baghdad and Diyala, the HerRole network reached out to citizens and decision-makers in their communities not only to gain buy-in for a reconciliation process but to listen in order to identify common concerns and potential solutions. Together, the peacebuilders hosted over 1,600 local outreach activities that included more than 16,400 participants. Based on their professional expertise and research, along with feedback from community leaders and constituents, the activists detailed 50 specific policy recommendations, with a particular emphasis on addressing the needs of women and girls.
The gender-sensitive platform reaches beyond traditionally simple masculine assumptions about peace and security, which tend to fixate on militias and weaponry. Using their more comprehensive perspectives about the needs of families and communities, the women activists focus on broader issues of human security that are crucial to sustaining peace. The first six chapters cover: Women’s Empowerment, Security and Safety, Trust and Confidence, Victims and Survivors, Education and Youth, and Governance and Distribution of Resources. Two new chapters have been added to this edition. The first, on Health and Environment, was drafted before the global COVID-19 pandemic and has been given new urgency by the spread of the coronavirus. The second, on Agriculture, deals with the crucial issue of food security, as well as ways to bolster the agricultural sector to diversify Iraq’s economy and create more jobs.
With protests rocking cities across Iraq since October 2019, the HerRole platform provides a blueprint for leaders and citizens to respond with research-driven solutions that could help build public trust. The 60 women who drafted the platform together, each with areas of expertise, continue to make themselves available as valuable resources to assist local and national government bodies. Four are already serving on Women’s Advisory Boards in their home provinces, as part of another program implemented by NDI with support from the Government of Canada. And all continue looking for opportunities to ally with women and men from across Iraq’s diverse communities to advance a gender-sensitive reconciliation process.
Now, the women activists are calling on decision-makers at all levels of the Government of Iraq, civil society, and the international community to take action to implement their policy recommendations. They are proud to present this national reconciliation platform for all who seek to bring peace to Iraq.
This program is implemented with funding from the Government of Canada, Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOP).