Latest Message from Rashad of the Women & Knowledge Society in Iraq

December 2008


Since the U.S. invasion in March of 2003, the situation of women in Iraq has dramatically deteriorated by every measure of daily survival: lack of access to clean water, food, health services, electricity, education, fuel, and jobs. A harsher, less secure life is the result of the U.S. occupation.

The latest report from the Women & Family Committee of the Iraqi Parliament announced the presence of over 1.5 million widows, with an additional hundreds of thousands of families whose male breadwinners had either been arrested or had disappeared. This situation has created millions of households where daily subsistence is at best precarious. The average Iraqi family has at least 3-4 children, and for a widowed woman, the challenge of providing for her children is daunting. In addition, because of internal displacement due to increased violence, many women are without the safety net provided by extended family.

Since 2005, the Women & Knowledge Society has run multiple projects to help impoverished widows and orphans in and around Baghdad, Nineveh, and Fallujah. Services provided and numbers served have fluctuated over the past three years depending on the availability of funds. One of the primary focuses of our work has been to assist widows in finding a means of generating enough income to cover the cost of their daily food. Most of the widows we serve are internally displaced and have been dispossessed because of sectarian violence.

In 2008, a donation of $10,000 from CODEPINK helped fund the following projects:
1. The provision of a sheep, its newborn lamb and necessary feed to each of seven widows in Abu –Minaser (a village 20 km. from Baghdad)
2. The provision of sweets, juices and other foodstuffs to 3 widows in
Abu-Ghraib (a village 15 km. from Baghdad) so they could run small shops out of their homes.
3. Assisting three widows in Nineveh (the second largest city in Iraq about 450 km. from Baghdad) to have set up small clothing shops in their homes.
4. Assisting three widows in Nineveh to set up small vegetable shops in their homes.
5. Assisting five widows to set up small shops selling food and household supplies such as tomato paste, rice, sugar, matches, cooking oil, and sweets.
6. Providing sewing machines, fabric, thread and other sewing equipment to three widows in Fallujah (city 25 km. from Baghdad) so they could become seamstresses.
7. Providing bread ovens and gas cylinders to three widows in Fallujah so they could set up small bakeries in their homes.

The Women & Knowledge Society is grateful to CODEPINK Women for Peace and its members for raising the funds that made these projects possible. We are only saddened by our inability to help the hundreds of thousands of impoverished Iraqi women who need assistance.

About the Organization:
The Women & Knowledge Society, which was founded in June in 2003 in response to the devastation of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, is a non-sectarian, non-profit, non-governmental organization. Its mission is to improve the role of women in Iraq through medical, economic, and educational assistance to widows and their children. The Society has five branches in different governorates of Iraq: Baghdad / Hay –Aladel, Baghdad /Abu-Graib, Baghdad /Al-Dora, Fallujah, and Nineveh).

Email: maarefa2001[at]
Web site: