Iraqi women activists use education to counteract ISIL

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Hanaa Edwar, advocate for women's rights, addresses a press conference on "The role of women in countering terrorism and violent extremism". UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Iraqi women are working to counteract the influence of extremist groups who take advantage of people's "ignorance" to promote violence, according to an activist from the country.

Hanaa Edwar is in New York to participate in a UN meeting on Wednesday looking at the role of women in countering terrorism.

She reports that the terrorist group ISIL, also known as Da'esh, has been occupying about a third of her country since June.

Dianne Penn reports.

Ms Edwar said that under ISIL, suffering has increased "incredibly" due to killing, displacement and a rise in gender-based violence.

She added that of the more than 2,000 people executed by the group in recent months, 300 were women. Many were lawyers, journalists or civil servants.

ISIL has also kidnapped thousands of women and girls from the Yazidi community, a religious minority.

Ms Edwar said women are fighting back at the community, regional and national level.

"We work also on the education. This is very important for us when we speak about the programme of education because… it is the centre thing that Da'esh or other terrorist groups, they are using the ignorance of people. This is what we are trying to let people understand that without their actions, without their voices to be heard, that nothing will be changed."

Ms Edwar has welcomed Iraqi government initiatives aimed at involving more women in peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

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