Pioneering journalism project unites girls divided by ISIS

Budding young female journalists got a chance to try out their skills in an exciting collaboration between The Lotus Flower and the Yezidi non-profit DAK.

In a groundbreaking project funded by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a diverse group of 15 girls from Muslim, Yezidi, and Christian communities came together to learn key skills in media and journalism.

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The girls, who came from Sharya district, Sharya camp and Duhok City, have been living in fiercely divided communities since the brutal ISIS invasion in 2014. Following the terrorists’ violent attacks and propaganda, girls from different backgrounds have been wary of mixing. But the scheme, called Fostering Social Cohesion and Peacebuilding through Female-Led Journalism, tackled this destructive narrative, instead championing the idea of community integration.

During the program, the girls worked together to produce a magazine called Afrandin (meaning Creation), which they wrote, edited and designed. At the beginning, some of the Yezidi and Muslim girls would not even sit together, but by the end, they were working in harmony and building lasting friendships. One of the girls has since even been hired at a Yezidi publication.

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Not only did the girls learn vital communication skills to express themselves through magazines, newspapers, radio, and social media, but they also learned how media can bring about social unity rather than destruction. As fundamental drivers of change, they also recognised how their role in peacebuilding benefits their families, communities and ultimately their whole country.

One of the girls, Kheria, said of the experience: “The training was very good. I learnt a lot about social cohesion. The most amazing part was the activities that will make us never forget the information.”

Another participant, Jomana, added: “Women have to give priority to education, it’s the most important thing in life.”