Iraq’s First Female Goodwill Ambassador: Making my Voice reach the Farthest Corners of the Earth

Goodwill Ambassador

Goodwill Ambassador


Goodwill Ambassador Appointment

Goodwill Ambassador Appointment

Me’aad Hussein Sahar addresses women through “Nina” in this interview with Sana Bekki, telling us to: Always be proud to be an Iraqi woman.

Me’aad is the first Iraqi woman to be recognized as a “Goodwill Ambassador” in Human Rights and Psychological Health from the United Nations Institute for Science and Health in Canada. She is an educator who was raised in Karbala and continues to work there works as a head teacher. She is also a member of a subcommittee for an accelerated learning program which spans Iraq. Me’aad Hussein Sahar is a woman who, without hesitation, described herself at the beginning of this interview saying,

“I’m a woman who came from humble roots. I was raised as a poor child of simple peasants and I had brothers who were working and studying at the same time.”

She is one of a handful of Iraqi women leaders, who have spent years serving Iraqi  youth in-country, giving them the opportunity to catch up on education their have missed. She has also achieved success in areas of psychological health, human rights and peace. Her work at the accelerated learning program opened has new prospects for her to deal with people’s issues and help solve them. This resulted in the Canadian Institute for Science and Health choosing her as a “Goodwill Ambassador”. Me’aad was the first Iraqi woman to get such a title. Pioneering women, like Me’aad, who worked hard to open pathways and serve their country, make every Iraqi woman proud (including me!) and indeed make us wish to follow her example.

In this interview extract she tells us how becoming a Goodwill Ambassador came about. She focusses particularly on how this position helps her play an active role in serving Iraqi women, and ultimately her country Iraq.

“While surfing the internet, I found the address of a UN organization in Canada for Health and Human Rights. It included ambassadors of goodwill, psychological health and human rights. The organization has 185 members. The ambassadors are on a mission to help others, regardless of race or religion. Their aim is to create a suitable atmosphere for psychological well-being which is particularly lacking in emerging economies. We also create a shared pool of knowledge around human rights, in Iraq’s case of course extremists are trying to obliterate in our country. The organization is meant to support humanity for the sake of humanity.  I admired these principles and they match mine, so I got in touch.

Initially I contacted the organization to raise awareness for particular issues I wanted to draw attention to and I found them to be very responsive. For example, I tried hard to prove that Iraqi women who are committed to their religion can bring an extra dimension in terms of awareness and knowledge of people’s rights. Women who are active religiously are more likely to positively help humanity without discrimination. I was able to share positive ideas and stories about Iraqi women at events and conferences the Canadian Institute for Science and Health held in the Arab region. As a result of many ideas and discussions, I was eventually chosen to be a Goodwill Ambassador, with a focus on Psychological Health and Human Rights.

This position is honorary and unpaid, it is however considered a great victory for an Iraqi woman to have been chosen. Essentially, it distinguishes Iraq among the 185 countries, proving that Iraqi women are capable of achieving success, despite their  challenges. After I was given this position, I received significant support from the local government of Karbala, represented by the Karbala Governor Mr. Aqeel Al Turaihi. This personal support translated into increased support for the accelerated learning schools. A direct result of this was the opening of a bureau which specialized in improving the  status of women in the community.

I would like to mention here that I was granted the “Goodwill Ambassador” title as a result of my persistence to make my voice reach even the farthest corners of the earth. I felt very strongly that it was important to send a message to the world that Islam, which many have started to fear as a source of terrorism, is in fact a religion that respects and reinforces the role of women in the society. It is a religion of integrity and is a million miles away from the violent extremism that some perceive as being representative of Islam.

My ‘karbalite’ hijab and abaya are symbols to me of the love and respect I have for others, no matter who they are.I dedicate my success to my mother’s soul. She always taught me that through love and believing in God we can change our destiny.IMG_1168


Coming Soon:

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing  success stories of accelerated learning programs students. These voices of hope, provided by Me’aad Hussein Sahar, are a call to action for young people who have missed out on their education…. 

” We need to understand that learning & education  are life-long opportunities, there are no age limits! ” .

Me’aad Hussein speaks to Nina exclusively about her work in education in Nina 2, print edition out  early December.

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