August 19, 2021


By 2021 Diana Award recipient, Nojus Saad

Nojus grew up witnessing the physical and mental abuse of women in his community. In the years since, Nojus has turned his attention to tackling gender inequality. As President and CEO of ‘Youth For Women’, Nojus has run over 20 workshops on issues such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender-based violence. Nojus is also advocating for a national domestic violence policy reform for rural communities in Iraq.

World Humanitarian Day was set up to commemorate the 22 human rights defenders who have been assassinated by a bomb attack in a hotel in Baghdad, Iraq on August 19 2003; including the UN chief humanitarian, Sergio Vieira de Mello, a man who dedicated his life and career in promoting sustainable peace, international security, and better living conditions for the voiceless individuals affected by armed conflicts.

This day is crucial not only for honouring the legacy of fearless humanitarians and activists who are risking their lives every day to make the world a safer and more equitable place, but also for uniting stakeholders from across the humanitarian sector to champion the survival, well-being and dignity of vulnerable people affected by crises, and ensure the safety and security of frontline champions. I want to specifically commemorate the 14,000 innocent women and young girls murdered to domestic and gender-based violence in Iraq since 2003 (ReliefWeb 2015 report) and who have been heartlessly forgotten as if they never existed.

In July 2019, Nojus led a series of training sessions on gender-based violence in Iraq.

Conservative and patriarchal systems and mindsets are causing a devastation in the health and rights of marginalized girls and women in developing countries, through oppression of women’s basic rights and freedom of expression to normalizing domestic violence and “honorable killing”. There are hundreds of femicide cases recorded every year in Iraq with majority coming from rural and marginalized. This is accompanied by the lack of appropriate medical, legal, psychological, and non-profit services and shelter programmes that can respond to victims’ ongoing screams of struggles and oppression.

In respond to this, I started a community-level research initiative on domestic violence surveying more than one thousand rural women and girls in two marginalized cities, since there is significant underreporting of GBV cases in underserved communities and a considerable lack of GBV research. Based on this research initiative, I initiated a national campaign and involved young people, religious leaders, policy makers, and local stakeholders to advocate and fight for a 5% increase in the governmental funding for the domestic violence policy implementation in rural communities on the country level. Today, I am proud to call myself a humanitarian and to lead a unique international civil society organization (Youth For Women Foundation) dedicated to sustainably advocate for gender equality, healthcare, and internet inclusion in marginalized and rural communities worldwide.

World Humanitarian Day theme of #TheHumanRace, obtained from the official website of the WHD.

As the human race faces an existential threat of the climate crisis, the global health pandemic, and a shadow violence pandemic; world leaders are too busy “building back the economy” while making false sweet promises without any practical tangible results. Marginalized and developing communities are the most vulnerable and susceptible to the devastating climate emergency, yet the least concerned about it; and that is not because they do not care, but due to their extreme daily struggles for basic life needs and human rights, and the lack of climate awareness as 65% of the population in the developing world have never heard of climate change. Therefore, today’s theme of the World Humanitarian Day is #TheHumanRace for providing hope for the world’s most vulnerable humans from the upcoming climate disaster.

Actions you can take!

Today, let’s listen to the thousands of marginalized voices and honour the World Humanitarian Day by becoming Humanitarians ourselves, through the simple actions below:

1. Stand up and speak out. Use your voice for the voiceless individuals by advocating for this issue to the attention of politicians and decision-makers. Tell your representatives that you support campaigns like the United Nations Unite Campaign and urge them to support marginalized, rural, and refugee women and girls around the world.

2. Start a Community Awareness Campaign. Educate men, young people, and adolescents in the nearest rural area around you about gender-based violence and engage them in the fight against patriarchy.

3.Utilize your Social Media Influence. Spread awareness about gender equality, climate action, and the world humanitarian day by using the hashtags #TheHumanRace, #YouthForWomen, #WorldHumanitarianDay.

4. Get involved. Volunteer for crisis hotlines or provide items to homeless women and local women’s shelters based on needs, such as food, clothes, feminine hygiene products, and cell phones.

5. Give what you can. You could save hundreds of marginalized girls and womens’ lives from gender-based violence by donating to Youth For Women Foundation here, or other international humanitarian organizations here.

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