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Empowering women in Iraq to overcome trauma

The last years in Iraq have been dominated by armed conflicts. Many women and girls in the country are suffering the psychological consequences of abduction, torture, sexual violence, and slavery at the hands of the so-called Islamic state. These women and girls need special psychosocial care that the state has, so far, not been able to offer. Your donation can help heal their psychological wounds.

Malteser International supports a women’s center in Dohuk in Iraqi Kurdistan. The center offers a space for traumatized women to process their experiences and strengthen each other. Here they attend therapy sessions, learn new vocational skills, take part in sports and leisure activities and slowly find their way back to their normal lives. The center is run by our partner organization Women for Better Healthy Life.

When Islamic State (ISIS) took control of the Dohuk governorate, thousands of people fled their homes and majority were displaced multiple times.

Many women and children were exploited and sexually abused by the Islamic State fighters and are in urgent need of psychological support. Although the conflict with ISIS is over, insecurities remain and the scars left by years of terror and persecution run deep. These women urgently need psychological care and support to rebuild their own lives.

However, high rates of unemployment, especially in the health sector, and a lack of jobs are exacerbating the situation. During the years of conflict, health personnel were not able to attend further training courses and therefore did not gain any professional experiences. There is a need to train people and reintegrate them into the workforce.

  • Psychological recovery for women and children who have undergone traumatic experiences
  • Women are reintegrated into the society and labor market and can earn their own income.
  • Rebuilding healthcare services in Dohuk
  • The capacities of local organizations are strengthened.

The women's centre run by Women for Better Healthy Life (WBHL) in Dohuk offers a range of services for women including:

Psychosocial programmes:

  • Group sessions for families, women
  • Sessions on psychosocial foundations of life for women
  • Psychological first aid for women
  • Training women to be trainers in psychological first aid

Vocational education for women:

  • Courses on public speaking and presentations
  • First aid training courses
  • Community Health Training Courses
  • Language courses in Kurdish, Arabic and English
  • Maintenance, repair and service of computers and mobile phones
  • Youth worker training
  • Courses of Business Model Development
  • Training courses on commercial catering
  • Patisserie training
  • Tailoring
  • Media and graphic design
  • Creative thinking

Sports and leisure activities:

  • Self-defence courses, stretch exercises for older people, birth preparation courses, Zumba and Yoga sessions
  • Cultural events such as concert evenings, food tasting events, exhibitions and film screenings.

Increasing the capacity of our local partner organisation WFBH:

  • Capacity development of local employees through training and external further education
  • We jointly develop a fundraising strategy for sustainability

Integrating unemployed women with a medical background back into the healthcare system:  

  • We conduct practice-oriented refresher trainings and provide financial support for the reintegration of women.



A safe space for women

Country info

Capital: Baghdad
Area: 437,072 km²
Population: approx. 33.4 million

Project data

Partner: Women for Better Healthy Life (WFBH)

Financing: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and private donations

Last updated: January 2019


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