Women and girls living in Syria and Iraq have been subject to gross sexual violence, economic strife and the psychological trauma of a war that, to them, seems endless. But women in these countries are not just victims of violence, they are also great agents for change. These women should be our best allies in the fight against Islamic State.
We have seen reporting on female Kurdish fighters; women who were university students, mothers and grandmothers. But women are not just taking up arms. Though missing from the news, women in Syria and Iraq are also working towards peace. For example, in the suburbs of Damascus, a women’s group negotiated a 40-day ceasefire between regime and opposition forces to allow the passage of essential supplies.