Suaad Abbas Salman Allami: A Strong and Credible Advocate

Posted by Ruth Bennett
March 10, 2009
International Women of Courage Award 2009

About the Author: Ruth Bennett serves as the Public Affairs Advisor for the Office of International Women’s Issues. This entry is one in a series of profiles of the 2009 International Women of Courage Award recipients."A strong and credible advocate...to ensure equality is not only talked about but practiced and upheld."

In the middle of embattled Sadr City, Suaad Allami runs an NGO called Women For Progress. The NGO manages the Sadr City Women's Center, a "one-stop shop" for everything from legislative advocacy, vocational training, and domestic violence counseling to medical exams and literacy education and even child care and exercise opportunities.

A practicing lawyer with 16 years' experience, Ms. Allami works both to strengthen Iraq's small corps of female legal professionals through programs such as her highly successful Women Lawyers Continuing Education seminars, as well as to make certain that Iraqi Constitutional protections for women translate into day-to-day life. In the words of U.S. Army Colonel George Phelan, the Rule of Law Advisor and Women's Rights Advocate for the Embedded Provincial Reconstruction (EPRT) Team located outside Baghdad, Ms. Allami is "that strong and credible advocate Iraqi women need to ensure that equality is not only talked about but practiced and upheld in ground truth."

Ms. Allami is a highly visible advocate in a political climate in which voicing support for women's rights is a life-threatening act. She is one of only two women on the 40-person District Council, and has served as Chair of its Women and Children Council since 2004. She's served on the Baghdad Provincial Council and authored the January 2008 By-Laws for the entire Baghdad Province District and Qada Councils.

She's also taken a brave and personal stand against corruption, resisting the efforts of a local strongman to extort money from the Women's Center. She frequently consults with U.S. government and coalition forces, at great personal risk, outside the Green Zone. And when she learned about the extent of alleged human rights abuses at Kadhamiya Women's Prison, she boldly conducted an unannounced inspection, CNN crew in tow, without regard for the potential for backlash against her. The Minister for Human Rights shut the prison down two months later.

Ms. Allami has expanded her focus beyond the extraordinary Women's Center she's created in Sadr City. She won a USD 700,000 grant, which she used to open four additional and extremely popular centers in Baghdad. And she's submitted proposals that would bring female-taught training and education in internationally-recognized human rights precepts to all Baghdad District Councils and militia-age males in the city.

Rather than urge international engagement from the relative safety of a neighboring country, Ms. Allami made a brave commitment to remain in her homeland. Because of her work, Iraqi women are not only healthier and safer, but have the means to change their lives and their communities.

Comments

Comments

Mulher
|
Brazil
March 10, 2009

Mulher in Brazil writes:

Thanks for the info! I'm woman Brazilian and I am in the fight against prejudice!

Syrian P.
|
Syria
March 11, 2009

SNP in Syria writes:

One Award for Suaad and one and half million coffins for the rest of Iraqis.

zainab
|
Iraq
March 15, 2009

Zainab in Iraq writes:

Salam, Ms. Suaad you are really a strong and credible advocate, you deverve it as all iraqi women deserve all the world's appreciation. God bless you.

Mulher
|
Brazil
March 18, 2009

Mulher in Brazil writes:

Thanks for the info!

Ethan
|
United States
March 22, 2009

Ethan in U.S.A. writes:

I personally know Suaad and worked with her numerous times. She is an amazing person and has placed Iraq ahead of her own interests, often in the threat of danger. She deserves this recognition. Hi, Suaad. I hope you get to read this story about your work!

Jack
|
United States
March 26, 2009

Jack in U.S.A. writes:

Thanks for information!

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