“Women on the Frontline” is a collection of films that show the struggle women (and men) face daily in the Middle East and North Africa. Three of these films were shown during a special screening at the Dutch Embassy.  Deputy Ambassador Joanneke Balfoort emphasized the importance of these testimonials as a wake-up call: “It’s easy to read a newspaper from behind a computer or a cozy sofa. But it’s a whole different world to hear it from the source itself and look her or him in the eye.”

The movies were developed by a group of organizations and an accountants firm: Hivos, Oxfam, The Institute of War and Peace Reporting and PWC. They take place in seven countries: Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain.

Women on the Frontline (Trailer)

Kurdish activist Behar Ali spoke about the tragedy of Yazidi women in the war with ISIL. Thousands of Yazidi women and children were captured in the summer of 2014 when the so-called Islamic State overran northern Iraq. Many of them were sexually assaulted. Behar Ali: “For many women suicide was the only way to escape. They couldn’t go back to their former lives because they were afraid to be called ISIL-kids.”


Behar Ali grew up in the city of Halabja in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Her city was struck by a chemical attack by the forces of Saddam Hussein in 1988. Ali has studied Gender Research at the University of Nijmegen. She has lived in the Netherlands between 1996 and 2004.

Interview Behar Ali

With the screening of the movies the Dutch Embassy wants to draw attention to the anniversary of UN Security Resolution 1325, which focuses on the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction. The resolution also stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

Promoting international law, human rights and rule of law are a top priority for the Netherlands. The Netherlands has always been an advocate for women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa. It has backed the project “Women on the Frontline” with funding of 6.4 million dollars.