Other than achieving my initial goal therefore, the thing I am most proud of is that I have helped give those without a voice a way of expressing themselves. We have started breaking the silence of women, access to rights and justice give the women we work with confidence. This the leads to a virtuous circle, with many of our beneficiaries finding work and opportunity in the long term – this of course supports Iraq as a nation.
Iraq as a nation -we have had requests from many people for Suaad to comment on the current crisis in Iraq. I frame the question in a slightly wider way – in Suaad’s opinion what is the greatest threat to Iraq today?
Even during the wars, I can’t recall things as being quite as bad as they are now. ISIS is a threat on so many levels. For example, if you are reading this outside Iraq, you may not be aware that when ISIS enters a territory they advocate marriage by force. Three weeks ago, we heard that rather than marrying members of ISIS, five women committed suicide.
That is the extreme level of course, moving back a step there are hundreds of thousands of disposessed families fleeing their homes. In normal circumstances this would be bad enough. But, in Iraq, where everything is in disarray to begin with, I can’t express the terrible challenges our people are facing. There is no food, there is no water, there is no shelter, there is no support. Current efforts are simply not enough.
We are not ready to absorb these extra problems of displacement, because we haven’t dealt with our last set of problems yet! Quite simply to my mind there is no direction, no crisis management or plans. This lack means there is no response in place that is able to help in any significant way. This, coupled with the sheer number of dispossessed is the most immediate threat.
You ask what the diaspora can do to help. We need you to create awareness, keeping up the momentum, insisting that all the activities of NGOs, civil society and the security services that have been frozen are allowed to engage again. “
We come to the end of our time together. I ask whether she has any advice for young women wishing to combine being a wife and mother with a career despite culture opposition from family and communities. Suaad speaks about the importance of volunteering, of being prepared to give something back as the prime motivation.