At the Women Against Radicalisation Network (WARN), one of our missions is to empower women to educate future generations, inspire agents of change and protect the vulnerable against the evils of radicalisation.
We believe that women from all backgrounds are the key to a brighter future.
This is why it is with joy that we read the recent reports from Iraq about a group of women who are taking it upon themselves to launch initiatives to help rebuild the very fabric of Mosul – the city that for more than two years suffered under the brutal regime of Daesh.
The offensive to liberate Mosul continues, but Iraqi forces have now liberated the neighbourhoods that lie on the east bank of the Tigris River. But the residents are left with a city of social, psychological and infrastructure challenges.
The economy is in tatters, its buildings are in ruins, the city’s sects and ethnicities are divided, children have missed two years of state education and instead been indoctrinated with Daesh’s twisted ideology – the list of social, economic and humanitarian problems is long.
The task of rebuilding Mosul is a daunting one.
It’s estimated that 100 percent of police stations, 90 percent of roads, and 60 percent of government buildings in the eastern districts of the city are damaged. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, meanwhile, projected that as many as 3 million people in Ninewa Governorate could require humanitarian support in 2017.
To try and tackle it, a group of female parliamentarians have developed a plan to mend and heal Mosul.
Iraqi MP Farah al-Sarraj and eight other female parliamentarians from Ninewa Governorate, of which Mosul is the capital, are developing plans. It’s early days, but they are forming some incredible and inspiring ideas.
One of their first initiatives is to establish a “social committee” to resolve minor crimes committed under the Daesh rule in order to take pressure off the burdened legal system. They want to enlist volunteers to go door-to-door and catalogue crimes such as theft and attempt restitution. This will include a reconciliation contract to pave the way for peace and forgiveness.
When asked why she envisages a women-only committee, Sarraj says: “Because there are deep-rooted political problems between the men. Therefore, we left the political sphere and focused on the social one. Women are more empathetic. People are usually more comfortable talking with women.
“Just as Daesh used women to disintegrate society, we want to use women to unite the society.”
The women are from Kurdish, Turkmen, Shiite, and Sunni Arab communities.
There is a long way to go before the women can implement their ideas. Local government approval is required and parts of the city have only recently been liberated.
But the story is an amazing development in a city where women have been oppressed, raped and beaten down for more than two years under Daesh occupation.
It sends a powerful message to Daesh that women will not be repressed. That we are strong, resilient and forward-looking. Women have the crucial skills to help Mosul rebuild and women are vital members of an Iraqi society that needs to be reshaped for a brighter future. Just as women are all over the world – including in the UK, where women play a key role in preventing radicalisation through education, empowerment and engagement.
We’ll be watching and supporting as much as possible as this courageous collective of women gains influence and momentum.
You can find out more about WARN’s work to empower women for a brighter future by clicking here