Voices of Civil Society in Iraq

March 25, 2015
12:00 pm - 02:00 pm

1025 F. St NW, Washington, D.C. 20004


Fatima Kadhim Al-Bahadly
Director of Al-Firdaws Society in Basra, Iraq

Amina Hassan
Masarrat Cultural and Media Development in Baghdad, Iraq

Zainab Al-Suwaij
American Islamic Congress in Washington, DC


Laith Kubba
Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa, National Endowment for Democracy

About the Event

As part of the World Movement for Democracy’s Civic Space Initiatives (CSI), the World Movement held an event to discuss a landscape of civil society in Iraq. The event served as a launch of the World Movement’s new CSI video, Fatima.

Fatima Al-Bahadly, featured in the film, will be one of the featured panelists. The CSI video shows how she deals with challenges and works with various communities, such as youth, women, religious minorities, and the public sector (provincial council). Amina Hassan, who was behind a camera and produced the Fatima video, is also an extremely courageous activist. Because of her media/journalism work, she was shot three times by militants some years ago, but she survived. And, today she is committed to continuing working to address social issues through media production.

All cameras and media must register with NED public affairs. Please email jane@ned.org to register as a member of the press.

About the Speakers

Fatima Kadhim Al-Bahadly is the director of Al-Firdaws Society, a NGO founded in June 2003 and based in the Basra province of Iraq, dedicated to the promotion of women’s rights and the enhancement of women’s economic and political power in society. In this capacity, Fatima has supervised a number of projects addressing issues of conflict resolution, women’s political participation, and violence against women. Fatima has been active in local, regional and international forums addressing these topics, and is a member of several civil society organizations engaged in this work in Iraq.

Iraqi al-Firdaws Society (Firdaws) was established in Basra in June 2003 under the name Muslim Woman Association and re-registered with its new name in February 2006. Firdaws strives to improve the political, social, cultural and economic level of life in its community. The organization has implemented numerous projects in the areas of elections awareness, ending violence against women, national reconciliation, training women political candidates, promoting a human rights culture, youth empowerment, and police training on gender and violence. It conducts community-oriented activities on literacy, health training for women, and food and assistance distribution. Firdaws distinguishes itself by leading efforts on behalf of both rural and urban communities in Basra, and founded the Firdaws Center for Family Counseling in 2011 to much local acclaim. The organization remained steadfast in its work and adhered to its principles during 2007 and 2008, when extremist groups threatened the group. In the past, it has received grants from DFID, ADF, UNOPS, PIN, NDI, Mercy Corps, DAI, Heartland Alliance, Arab Institute for Human Rights, ICSP, Refugees International, and Iraqi Al-Amal. Most recently, Firdaws partnered with UNESCO on an illiteracy project and mobilized civil society in Basra to counter government corruption.

Masarat for Cultural and Media Development is a nongovernmental organization established in 2008 in Baghdad to raise awareness and advocate for legal reforms for the protection of human rights, through training, conferences, workshops, and advocacy campaigns. The board is headed by Mr. Saad Sallooum, a journalist and a prominent university professor. Mr. Salloum is also the Author of a comprehensive volume entitled “Minorities in Iraq,” which is considered an essential reference on the issue. Other board members include Ms. Amina Hassan, a women’s activist and a journalist. Masarat produces and distributes a quarterly magazine entitled Masarat, which covers cultural and intellectual issues, and the organization has also contributed to other publications. It has led the foundation of a number of civic coalitions and networks including Coalition of Pluralism Defenders and the Iraqi Council for Religious Dialogue.