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Displacement and WPS in Iraq

LSE Knowledge Exchange

Co-hosted with the LSE Middle East Centre

In Iraq, women are disproportionately affected by conflict-related displacement, yet policy responses do not often reflect their experiences. Without a gendered perspective, political actors focus on short-term solutions - humanitarian responses and provision of relief - which do not adequately meet women's needs.

Dr Zeynep Kaya, Research Fellow, Project lead

The ‘Displacement and Women, Peace and Security in Iraq’ project looks at the gendered dimensions of conflict-related displacement with a particular focus on displaced women. It seeks to contribute to developing the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda in conflict-related situations.

Dr Zeynep Kaya’s 2016 policy report on WPS in Iraq pointed to the lack of awareness and understanding of the WPS frameworks and of the issues women experience due to conflict, which widens the gap between policy and implementation in Iraq. This is particularly the case in the responses to conflict-related displacement. When political actors view conflict-related displacement as a short-term issue, their focus turns to humanitarian response and provision of relief - rather than issues with long-term impact such as settlement, return, education, health, livelihood, and revision of the legal system and regulations.

’Displacement and Women, Peace and Security in Iraq’ builds on Dr Kaya’s recently completed research on enhancing women’s status and her current project on humanitarian responses to internal displacement in the in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. 


Project Aims and Value


‘Displacement and WPS in Iraq’ aims to make a positive impact on displaced peoples’ lives in Iraq by bridging the gap between policy and implementation. It will bring together members of displaced communities with academic researchers, policy-makers, local and international civil society organisations and UN agencies.

The project aims to capture the importance of addressing the gendered-dimensions of conflict-related displacement and of the responses to this issue in Iraq’s National Action Plan on the Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda, as well as the necessity of incorporating the issue of displacement into the revised version of Iraq’s Plan for the next implementation period (2018-2022).


The absence of women and lack of gender perspective in decision-making processes in relation to short and long-term responses to displacement hinder women from having a meaningful impact on the design of the provisions for protection and development of support systems. This is despite the fact that more women than men are affected by conflict-related displacement and the impact of displacement on women is disproportionate due to gendered vulnerabilities.

Incorporation of the issue of displacement into the WPS agenda in Iraq can improve strategies in relation to the protection of women, prevention of harm, enabling recovery and relief during and after conflict-related displacement, and can enable participation of displaced women in decision-making, conflict resolution and peace-building. 

Project Activities

  • A workshop in Jordan on 26-27 September brought together relevant stakeholders including regional government officials, UK government officials, local and international civil society organisations and academics and experts with experience of developing National Action Plans for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in different countries in the Middle East including Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen. Read the report of the workshop here.
  • A policy development initiative – breakout sessions were held with a group of experts and stakeholders to: assess current and future efforts on WPS; develop specific recommendations for the inclusion of the displacement issue into National Action Plans; and assess existing Plans in order to inform and contribute to the ongoing implementation and revision processes.


Women, Peace and Security and Displacement in the Middle East 

This policy report  by Zeynep Kaya, LSE Middle East Centre and Hannah Bond, GAPS UK is the result of extensive discussions with national and international experts on the gendered impacts of displacement and on how the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda can be used to better address the issue of conflict-related displacement.

Advisory Group Members

‘Displacement and Women, Peace and Security in Iraq’ dedicates significant importance to engaging with relevant experts, practitioners and stakeholders.

This project will benefit from the participation of an Expert Advisory Group and Stakeholder Advisory Group. These groups will be consulted at every stage of the project, including the production of the policy report.

Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS), American University of Iraq–Sulaimani: Local partner, IRIS, will provide logistical support in the organisation and carrying out of the project activities. 

Expert  Advisory Group


Bahar Ali is a life-long human and gender rights activist, and was a member of the expert committee that developed a national strategies for women development and for the elimination of gender-based violence in Iraqi Kurdistan. She is the Director of the Emma, a non-profit organization based in Erbil that provides rehabilitation, development assistance, and programme services to vulnerable communities.

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Frances Guy is currently Gender Adviser at the Regional Bureau for Arab States in UNDP, based in Amman, Jordan.  She was previously the UNWomen representative in Baghdad between from 2012 to 2014, and supported Iraqi women’s groups in the development of the 1325 National Action Plan. 

Choman Hardi

Choman Hardi, Founding Director of The Center for Gender and Development Studies at AUIS.



Liza Hido co-founded the Baghdad Women Association in 2004 to advance women’s leadership in Iraq’s shifting political landscape after serving as Chair of the Committee for Women and Children in Baghdad. She is dedicated to raise the voices of Iraqi women in international decision-making, and she is member of Alliance 1325 to implement national action plan for UNSCR 1325 in Iraq.


Barbara Rijks is based in Erbil, Iraq as the head of the IOM Office in Erbil where she is charge of liaison with the Kurdistan Regional Government and supporting IOM operations in the KRI, Ninewa and Kirkuk. She has been working in the migration field for 20 years, and has worked for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in New York and South Africa, and for the Department of Migration Management at IOM Headquarters in Switzerland.


Sherri Kraham Talabany is the President and Executive Director of SEED Foundation, a development organization in Kurdistan, Iraq. She brings decades of experience in foreign policy and overseeing international development programs for the United States Government.

Stakeholder Advisory Group


Suzan Aref is the founder and director of the Women Empowerment Organization (WEO) which was founded in 2004 and is currently the coordinator of Cross Sector Task Force for INAP 1235 implementation. Her interest and experience has focused on organization development, capacity building, democratic dialogue, and peace building and activities that strengthen disadvantaged groups in particular women from different life perspectives.

Mandana Hendessi

Mandana Hendessi is the Director of Syria Response and Iraq at Women for Women International. She currently manages WfWI’s country office in Erbil, KRI. Mandana has over 20 years of work experience in designing, managing and consulting on projects related to the broader theme of women, peace and security.

Zarina Khan

Zarina Khan is the Director of GAPS (Gender Action for Peace and Security), a UK network of organisations working collectively on women, peace and security. She leads on policy and advocacy with the UK government on its National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325. Zarina previously worked at the International Rescue Committee UK, Saferworld, Womankind Worldwide and Amnesty International UK, working on gender, peace and security; women’s rights and development; women’s participation in peacebuilding; and violence against women and girls. 

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Dina Zorba, UN Women Iraq.

‘Displacement and WPS in Iraq’ project is funded by the LSE Knowledge Exchange and Impact Fund and is based at the Middle East Centre and Centre for Women, Peace and Security at LSE. 



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