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Meet a Woman that is Changing a World

In a country where over 10 million people have been affected by the ongoing fighting including over 3.4 million people that have been internally displaced, daily challenges and sufferings of Iraq’s most vulnerable groups is norm. In all emergency settings, Gender Based Violence is always under reported but for Iraq, the little that is known about the horrific violations and brutally that the terrorist armed group of ISIS have imposed on women and girls in Iraq has caused a shock to the international community. While many people have been alarmed, others such as Nagham have decided to do something about it.

“Not only because it’s my duty as a doctor, but I also witnessed what the survivors go through while I was displaced from my town after ISIS took over Sinjar”

Nagham Nawzat, a 38 years’ old gynecologist from Sinjar, northern Iraq, was having a normal life before her district was attacked by ISIS. She had to flee her home together with other hundreds of women and girls that went through horrific suffering when ISIS took over the city of Sinjar in 2014. But Nagham decided to focus her efforts on helping Ezidi girls and women traumatized by the horrific Gender Based Violence acts committed by ISIS. 

“At the beginning I used to visit the Internally Displaced Persons’camps to support survivors there and then moved to a centre [Survivors’ Centre] in Duhok Health Directorate with a number of other volunteers”

Nagham, who herself had to flee her hometown of Bashiqa near Sinjar, said she feels it is her moral duty and her professional obligation to do all she could to help.

Yet one of the biggest challenges that were impeding her efforts was the lack of structured and systematic funding to support the access of women and girls in the camps to specialized support.

“It was a challenge to continue and I could not obtain financial assistance at the beginning”.

“When UNFPA started supporting us, many of our problems were solved and our interventions became more sustainable and accessible to women and girls in the camps through the UNFPA supported women centers” Nagham continued.

Although some of the stories of the women and girls she hears are shocking and heart-breaking, “but they make me more enthusiastic to go on”, according to Nagham

In March 2016, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented the 2016 Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award to Nagham along with other 13 women in recognition for their distinguished courage.

“This award gave me the power to continue my mission, to support the survivors and revive their hopes in having a better life,” said Nagham.

Nagham continues her work in UNFPA supported Women Survivors’ Center in Dohouk with a smile on her face despite everything, and with faith in her heart that she can help the girls and women she meets to change their lives and move beyond these horrific memories.