International Women’s Day

Accelerate progress in Iraq by investing in the recovery of conflict-affected women

Erbil, Iraq – March 8th, 2024:
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we recognize that investing in women is key to building strong, stable, and resilient societies. Ensuring that women are socially integrated, economically empowered, and politically represented contributes to the peace and prosperity of nations and leads to better outcomes for all.

Today marks three years since the Yezidi Survivors’ Law (YSL) was ratified by the Government of Iraq (GOI). A groundbreaking and highly acclaimed reparations framework for survivors of ISIS, the YSL serves as recognition of the ongoing challenges facing some of Iraq’s most vulnerable and conflict-affected communities – and in particular, women and girls.

While many notable steps have been taken to advance the status of women in Iraq, several key challenges remain. Women are critically underrepresented in schools, in the workforce, and in public life. Girls in Iraq have lower rates of school enrollment, lower rates of literacy, and higher dropout rates than boys, which impacts their prospects for gainful employment, financial stability, and professional opportunity. According to recent statistics, women only comprise 11% of the labor force, increasing the vulnerability of families and communities to poverty and compromising the potential for economic growth and sustainable development.

These disparities have been worsened by recurrent conflict. In wartime, widespread insecurity, reduced access to essential services, the intentional destruction of educational facilities, and experiences of displacement and captivity can, and do, significantly disrupt the education of children. Girls tend to be disproportionately affected. Some never return to school, robbing them of the benefits of education, reducing their access to viable livelihoods, increasing dependency, and locking them into cycles of poverty.

The YSL was designed to facilitate the recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration of survivors – particularly women and girls – by addressing the damages arising from conflict. Specific benefits available under the law include, among others, monthly compensation payments; educational opportunities and an exemption from age requirements for survivors who wish to return to study, many of whom have aged out of the school system; and job opportunities through priority access to public employment. Full implementation of these measures could support women in returning to school and work, help them to escape poverty and protracted displacement, and mitigate disparities that have been worsened by conflict.

When the GOI ratified the YSL, it represented a remarkable commitment to investing in women and ensuring that those who have experienced disproportionate setbacks as a result of conflict are not left behind. While considerable progress has been made towards implementation since the law’s passage in 2021, including the release of initial reparations payments to over 1,600 survivors, much remains to be done to ensure that all promised benefits reach those in need.

On this day, SEED urges the GOI to invest in the future security, stability, and prosperity of the nation by prioritizing continued implementation of the YSL. For Iraq to reap the full benefits of women’s capacity to contribute, it must close the widening gap between men and women, especially in communities affected by conflict. When women thrive, we all do.


SEED Foundation is a local NGO in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, committed to protecting, empowering, and supporting the recovery of survivors of violence and others at risk. Our approach to this mission is integrative and holistic. We provide quality and comprehensive services, including mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), legal, protection, and shelter services; training, capacity building, and education for those working to protect and serve survivors; and policy and advocacy to strengthen laws, policies, practices, and protections for vulnerable people, and to promote social change.

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