An Evening with Yanar Mohammed


Schimmel Auditorium, Pace University

On October 23, in a rare US appearance, internationally renowned Iraqi activist and fighter for women’s rights, Yanar Mohammed, will be offering a first-hand account of post-war conditions in Iraq, particularly as they relate to women.

Ms. Mohammed is the founder of Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) an organization fighting to stop atrocities against women and advocate for women’s social, political and economic rights. One of their main projects is the development of a battered women’s shelter in Baghdad to protect women who are fleeing from violence and “honor killings.” She is editor of the newspaper Al Mousawat” (Equality) which circulates throughout Baghdad and beyond. She has also participated as one of

the lead negotiators in the recent sit-in protests by the Union of Unemployed in Iraq.

OWFI is the only Iraqi women’s organization that has spoken out openly against both the US occupation and the forces of Islamic reaction that it has unleashed. The US war has led, not to “liberation,” but to a violent backlash against Iraqi women. Islamist groups, bolstered by the political chaos and lawlessness in the country, have begun terrorizing the populace and women in particular, in a bid to gain power over Iraqi society.

Women are being attacked daily in the streets, forced out of jobs, forced to veil, and abducted and raped. All while the US occupying forces stand by and do nothing.

Despite her international reputation and unparalleled contribution to the Iraqi people’s struggle, Ms. Mohammed and her organization are still relatively unknown to most in the US. For this reason, the Committee in Support of Iraqi Women’s Freedom, believes that having her speak here will be an invaluable contribution to the anti-war and women’s movements. Indeed, we believe that it will take us one important step beyond simply opposing the occupation, to forging solidarity with the true movement for liberation and freedom in Iraq.

To learn more about Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) or their sister organization Iraqi Women Rights Coalition (IWRC), visit http://www.equalityiniraq.com

PACE University is located in downtown Manhattan on Park Row directly across from City Hall. The entrance to Schimmel Auditorium is on Spruce Street off of Park Row. By subway: take 2& 3 downtown to Park Place, or 4, 5, 6, N and R to City Hall/Brooklyn Bridge.

Biographical Sketch of Yanar Mohammed

Yanar Mohammed was born in Baghdad in 1960. She spent many years organizing against the Baath regime dictatorship. She witnessed the eighties’ war with Iran, the invasion of Kuwait, the catastrophic “Desert Storm,” and the devastating economic sanctions that followed. She graduated from Baghdad University in 1984, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Architecture in 1993. She left Iraq for Canada in 1995.

In Toronto, Ms. Mohammed set up Defense of Iraqi Women’s Rights (DIWR), The DIWR worked in collaboration with the Independent Women’s Organization (IWO) to run a women’s shelter in Northern Iraq that saved the lives of over 200 women targeted for “honor killings.” Ms. Mohammed was featured in the CBC documentary “The National: Divided Opposition” (2002) and in an article in the Toronto Star, “War Protester Talking from the Heart” (11/17/02) She was the keynote speaker for International Women’s Day events in Vancouver, Canada, in which she chronicled the long and valiant history of Iraqi women’s struggle. Most recently, she and her organization, OWFI (Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq) were reported on in a NY Times op-ed piece entitled, Veiled and Worried in Baghdad” by Lauren Sandler.

Ms. Mohammed is also a member of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq (WCP) The WCP is a young grassroots party, founded in 1993, that differs from the traditional Communist Party in its critique of Soviet Union-style communism; its strong opposition to Islamic fundamentalism; and its emphasis on human liberation, political freedom and the original teachings of Marx. WCP is the only political party in Iraq that has lent its full and active support to the struggle for women’s rights.

Although Ms. Mohammed’s is known mainly for her work for women’s rights, she is also a mother, an accomplished architect and an artist. She has designed and sculpted large ceramic murals, one of which graces the entrance at the Canadian Arab Federation building in Toronto Canada.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.owfi.info/article/womens-struggle-for-freedom-in-iraq/