WEO Supports Elimination of Violence Against Women

Women Empowerment Organization (WEO)
Erbil, Iraq
27 November 2011

From left to right: Dr. Shaimaa Abdulbaqi Albakri “University Lecturer, Anbar” Ms. Ahlam Aljoboori “Women contemporary Organization, Qadissiya”, Ms. Suzan Aref “WEO Director” and Ms. Gaziza Omer “Theater Director, actor and writer, Sulaymaniyah”.

On November 25th-27th, 2011 Women Empowerment Organization (WEO) in Partnership with the International Organizations Kvinna till Kvinna, Women Empowerment Project, ArtRole, Gender Studies and Information Centre Organization, Merg Gallery, Shanadar Gallery, The College of Fine Art and The Institute of Fine Art in Erbil conducted an international conference in Erbil to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25th November 2011. The Conference was funded and supported by many organizations including the Kurdistan Regional Government, US Embassy and others.

Ms. Ann Ward welcomed and thanked the attendees for their interest in the international conference and gave a brief explanation of the three days which were full of activities and speakers, including several artists from Alkoush, Mosel, Baghdad, Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah and Erbil.

The conference was well attended by foreign visitors, members of Parliament, several ministries, local government, NGOs, University and community representatives. This internationally significant event was covered by most Kurdish, Iraqi Satellite TV stations, local TV and local radio stations.

The second day WEO Director Mrs. Suzan Aref led the conference by welcoming the attendees and congratulating all women on this occasion. She thanked the speakers and everybody who supported this conference. She talked about the challenges for Iraqi women in the new Iraq and how the Iraqi women contribute towards the development of a peaceful, intercultural and democratic society.

Ms. Gaziza Omer “Theater director, actor and writer” discussed the roles of theater and gave some examples about raising the role of arts in the Kurdistan region, while viewing a screening of her film throughout her speech. Presentations and exhibitions included "Women's voices", an exhibition of contemporary art by female artists includes performances, films, photography, paintings and sculptures and "Women's Hidden Voices" an exhibition featuring handicrafts made by women who are either disabled, living in shelters or serving prison terms.

At the conclusion of the conference, Ms. Suzan chaired a panel to address questions from the attendees. Some of the attendees gave some suggestions to help growing art in Iraq by focusing on support for students at schools and support of the arts by providing facilities for the arts.

The event was a success for the sponsors and participants, allowing a great deal of interaction between the many organizations in attendance and the participants.