Yanar Mohammed

Director, Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

Region(s): Middle East
Country of focus: Iraq

Yanar Mohammed (@Yanar_Mohammed) is the co-founder and director of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), a national women’s organization dedicated to rebuilding Iraq on the basis of secular democracy and human rights for all.

One of OWFI’s key operations is running secret women’s shelters in Baghdad, helping more than 1,300 women over the years escape domestic violence, death threats and exploitation. Women who have been forced to flee dangerous living situations are provided safe accommodation, psycho-social support and counselling, civic and human rights education, as well as life and job skills training.

In an interview for the Global Fund for Women,  Yanar  explained OWFI’s work against increased trafficking in women and girls amid the turmoil caused by Islamic extremists and ISIS.

OWFI supports marginalized communities, including women with disabilities, LGBTQ Iraqis, Afro-Iraqis and Turkmen, and Yazidi families displaced by conflict. OWFI programming includes broadcasts about peace, tolerance and respect for human rights to combat societal discrimination towards women and LGBT Iraqis via the radio and OWFI’s newspaper “Al-Mousawaat.”

For her work, Yanar has received prestigious awards, among them the Gruber Prize for Women’s Rights in 2008, the Eleanor Roosevelt Global Women’s Rights award in 2013 and Norway’s Rafto Prize in 2016.