EFI Board Member Suzan Aref Shortlisted for World’s Most Innovative Women in 2020

02 Mar 2020

We are proud to announce that EuroMed Feminist Initiative Board Member Suzan Aref has been shortlisted by the Athena40 initiative for The World´s Most Innovative Women in 2020 under the category Gender Diversity and Equality for Women and Girls in Iraq.

Athena40 is the world's first global list of the top 40 most forward-thinking women.  It is an initiative launched by the Global Thinkers Forum, a London-based organization focusing on three areas: accountability in leadership, women's empowerment and youth development. It selects the top 40 most forward-thinking women who create positive change in their societies and industries and also support other women and girls to thrive.

About Suzan Aref

Suzan has been a human rights activist since 1998. She holds a bachelor degree in economy and administration from Cihan University in Erbil, Iraq. She was recently awarded the Honorary Doctorate degree in Human Rights from the International University for Preliminary Studies. She was also appointed by the United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner as one of the human rights defenders among 30 persons from the Middle East and North Africa on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Ms. Aref is the founder, and since 2004, director of the Women Empowerment Organization. Since 2014 she is the Coordinator of the Iraq Cross-sector Task Force (CSTF) 1325, a Task Force that has been responsible for the development, implementation and reporting on the National Action Plan (NAP) for United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 on women, peace and security. In August 2018 and January 2019, Suzan Aref represented Iraq CSTF 1325 at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and presented the achievements and lessons learned from the implementation of Iraq NAP 1325. She highlighted the exemplary process that brought together civil society and government, and that made Iraq the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to have developed, adopted, implemented and reported on the implementation of the NAP 1325. EuroMed Feminist Initiative is proud to have supported and facilitated this process from the very beginning. 

Suzan Aref has an extensive experience in the field of women empowerment, in national planning, gender mainstreaming in national policies and frameworks. In addition, she is concerned with the Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPSA) and works as a consultant on women rights for national and international agencies in the region. She has also worked with the European Union in 2018 as a gender expert for a report on the situation of women in Iraq in terms of political and economic participation.

Suzan Aref consolidates efforts and promotes participatory action among government institutions, local organizations, international organizations, embassies and UN agencies on supporting women's rights agenda, security and peace.