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Improving access to legal and psychosocial support services for women in refugee camps

Layla stands in front of the children’s clothes and toy shop she opened with a Canada-funded micro-grant.
Credits: © Heartland Alliance International

Twenty-seven year-old Layla (pseudonym) is a Yazidi woman from Shingal, Iraq, who fled her home when Daesh overran the region in 2014. For the past 8 years, she has lived in the Khanke Refugee camp but could not find work because she only has a primary school education.

Five years after her arrival at Khanke, Layla married a Yazidi man living in the camp. She hoped to start a family and create a better life for herself. But these dreams quickly soured when her husband became abusive and violent, leaving her pregnant, with no means to support herself or her child.

The Canada funded Future Forward: The Iraqi Women’s Leadership Initiative provides support to women in Khanke Camp, like Layla, through its local partner, People’s Development Organization. The organization holds legal awareness raising sessions and promotes legal and psychosocial support services through the camp’s Women’s Resource Centre.

Through this initiative, Layla became more aware of her rights, particularly her right to receive support payments from her child’s father. The organization gave Layla the funds she needed to cover the court fees and a lawyer to file a case on her behalf, a case that she eventually won.

Layla now has access to essential maternal and reproductive health services, such as gynecological care and regular medical checkups through support payments from her husband.

In addition, Layla was given a micro grant through the program that allowed her to open a small shop selling children’s clothing and toys inside the Khanke Camp. As a result of all these supports and services, Layla has gained more independence and economic security and improved her mental health.

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