November the 25th marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The day, recognised globally, serves to raise awareness suffered by women and girls around the world. In Mosul, the observation of the day is particularly poignant, given the events of the city’s recent history. Although nearly every facet of Mosul’s society has suffered under ISIS, the group’s laws concerning women were particularly draconian. Many women remain traumatised over their experiences under militant rule.
This makes the conference in Mosul, organised to observe the day, even more important. The conference has been set up by the Masalla Organisation in cooperation with six women’s centres in Mosul. The goal of the conference is not only to raise awareness of the suffering of women under ISIS rule but also combat the prevailing attitudes across the Iraqi society towards women on issues as a whole. The fact that the conference is the first of its kind in Mosul highlights that the women here do not only seek to rise above the suffering inflicted on them by ISIS militants, but also rise above the Iraqi society prior to that point.
The event features not only speeches and seminars, but also poetry, art exhibitions and debates. Furthermore, a series of workshops have been set up to teach women life skills free of charge. These workshops did not only take place on the day but will continue for the next 16 days as part of al-Massalla’s mission to reduce violence against women. The skills learned here make very tangible contributions to the lives of the women here. Many of them have been left as the sole earner for their families as a result of the war. The skills they learn are therefore vital towards rebuilding their lives and supporting their families.
The conference and the workshops aimed at empowering women are just one out of the many projects launched in Mosul since the city was liberated from ISIS, signifying a new beginning for the women here.