22. September 2021 – BACK TO LIFE


During our event Side by Side with Agents of Change, which took place in Berlin on July 30th, Annalena Baerbock announced her ambassadorship for our project BACK TO LIFE.  Moderated by the journalist Ali Aslan, our guests included ISIS survivor Hakeema Taha, the German politician and chancellor candidate for the Alliance 90/The Green party at the upcoming federal elections, Annalena Baerbockand HÁWAR.help founder and chairwoman Düzen Tekkal. Together they discussed solutions to empower the survivors of ISIS atrocities ­– in Iraq, as well as in Germany. The event was virtually open to the public via our livestream.

Hakeema Taha came to Germany through a humanitarian special quota program in 2015. She considers herself lucky, as she is one of only few people who were granted this opportunity. She told us: “To this day, over 250,000 people live in refugee camps in northern Iraq”. Taha also highlighted the dire living conditions in these camps, where families of up to six have been living in small tents for many years, with inadequate water and electricity supply, insufficient sanitary facilities and no access to education for children and young people, let alone access to psychosocial support, for which there is such a critical need.

„I would like to see more special quotas for women and children so that they can have a second chance at life like I had.“

Hakeema Taha

Since her trip to northern Iraq in 2019, Annalena Baerbock has been campaigning in favour of a humanitarian special quota program that would enable particularly vulnerable Yazidi women and children to obtain asylum in Germany. Since 2015, over a thousand Yazidis have been able to come to Germany through such a program, organised by the state of Baden-Württemberg. “For me, it’s key that the next federal government sets up a new humanitarian quota program [for vulnerable Yazidis], numerous federal states have declared themselves ready”, she stated.

BACK TO LIFE’s Women’s Empowerment Center in northern Iraq provides a safe space for women to learn new skills, seek psychosocial support, and gain work experience.

„We can’t just express our sympathy; we have a responsibility. As an international community, we allowed the [ISIS] attack on Sinjar to happen, we allowed women and girls to be abducted. Yet, the women had the strength to continue living. I just knew we had to rethink our approach!“

Annalena Baerbock

For Düzen Tekkal, women’s empowerment projects such as BACK TO LIFE and humanitarian programmes such as Special Quotas are not only necessary for Yazidi women and children, they are also important for society as a whole: “it is not only about Yazidis, it is about human rights, it is about what kind of world we want to live in!” If we as an international community manage to empower these women to lead new, self-determined lives, they in turn will manage to demand justice.

The strong voices of Yazidi women such as Hakeema Taha, Farida Khalaf, Najlaa Matto and Nadia Murad have proven us accordingly. On behalf of all women, they have been fighting for the recognition of conflict-related sexual violence under international law and the prosecution of perpetrators of genocide on an international level.

Afterwards, we had a little surprise prepared: After showing Annalena Baerbock a video clip of our educational sports project SCORING GIRLS*, two participants of the project – together with initiator Tuğba Tekkal – presented her with her very own personal SCORING GIRLS* jersey as a sign of appreciation for her commitment, and cordially invited Baerbock, who has played soccer herself for many years, to a training session.

We would like to thank our partner Deutsche Postcode Lotterie for supporting this event.