SUPPORTING WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT IN IRAQ
We dream of a peaceful, kinder world for us all. And we believe that starts at home, helping women and their families to heal and thrive, not just survive. Coming out of the ravages of war, at any scale—in the country or the house in which you live—is not a journey for the feint-hearted. It takes courage, hope and determination to rebuild. Learning to love and value yourself is a huge part of that journey. And so is self-care.
So, within that spirit, in September of 2019 I delivered a large Free Lion Body Care care package to Ellen Woodsworth to take to Iraq. She had been invited to speak at a conference hosted by the National Democratic Institute in Iraq, in partnership with the Government of Canada. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization that responds to the aspirations of people around the world to live in democratic societies with open and multiparty political systems that recognize and promote basic human rights. A writer, organizer, former Vancouver City Councillor, international speaker and consultant on urban issues, Ellen is passionate about working for social justice, economic equality, a creative culture and environmentally sustainable planning, using an equity/intersectional lens to ensure that cities work for everyone.
The conference’s purpose was (in NDI’s words) “to launch Women’s Advisory Boards (WABs), independent committees that will provide policy recommendations, as well as implement local projects, in order to promote gender-sensitive problem-solving. Each of the five WABs, one in each province, is composed of about 17 women from all walks of life – teachers, lawyers, health professionals, NGO workers, businesswomen, housewives – whose backgrounds embody the vibrant cultural diversity of Iraq. They are already actively making a difference, from helping internally displaced persons, to campaigning against gender-based violence, to advocating for the rights of people with disabilities. Their ultimate goal is to help create inclusive provinces where women and girls, youth and elderly, people with special needs, and religious or ethnic minorities can sustain their livelihoods, access education and healthcare, and move freely and safely, without fear of violence or discrimination.”
“This conference enabled me to structure my thoughts. After three days of work with my peers from other provinces, I realize that there is still a long way to go; we need to unify our efforts,” said one participant from Ninewa at the conclusion of the event.
Ellen told me that the women were thrilled to receive body care products, as these things are hard to obtain in the provinces in which they live. I sent mainly body butters and Face Chai Moisturizer so that they could nurture themselves, even a little, through their very difficult journey. My hope is that they know that they are not alone and that there are people in the world who are rooting for their success.
Free Lion donates our products to non-profit organizations that support women and children. You are a part of this, too. For every purchase you make, we make a donation. It's our way of paying it forward, for the good of us all.
Sherazad Jamal, Free Lion Team