Women throughout Iraq have paid a pivotal role in both actively fighting against ISIS militants and support those combatting the terrorist group. Of these women is Um Muayyad, a woman from Anbar who took up arms and supported the Iraqi Security Forces.
When ISIS tried to enter Um Muayad’s village north of Anbar, the Iraqi woman took up arms and stood next to the tribal forces on the frontlines. “We had seven tanks, and there was only one remaining, so they gave an order to retreat and remove the tank and take over the area,” said Um Muayad. “So, a few of the tribal men and I sat in front of the tank. We told them that they’d have to crush our bodies with the tank before removing it and retreating.” Since this incident, Um Muayad was involved in the various battles throughout Anbar. Her role with the Iraqi Security Forces was not limited to making food and getting them water. “I would go to the operations and get them gear. I was at their command, wherever they needed me,” she said.
This case is not unique in Iraq as Iraqi women have played an essential role in countering the terrorist organisation. Um Qusay a woman from Salahuddin won a 2018 International Women of Courage Award for saving over 58 young men from ISIS. “God took my husband, my son, and my nephew but he has given me in return these young men to console me,” Um Qusay said of the recruits.
The bravery of these Iraqi women has given the men on the frontlines a boost of morale. “Um Muayad was very supportive of the security forces, and she had played a big part in maintaining the fighters’ high spirits,” said one of the commanders in the tribal forces.
“We hope that God may reward her greatly. She’d call upon all the positions at midnight and make sure that they have all their needs and she would keep them in high spirit,” said one of the fighters. “She would do this during the day as well.”
From those who helped in cooking and preparing meals for the security forces, to the journalists who risked their lives to report, to those who fought the militant group next to their male counterpart, Iraqi women have played a significant role in the fight against ISIS.