Nikki Lyn Pugh



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Abstract or Description

In the following pages, you will find narrative stories about a Woman PeaceMaker, along with additional information to provide a deep understanding of a contemporary conflict and one person’s journey within it. These complementary components include a brief biography of the peacemaker, a historical summary of the conflict, a timeline integrating political developments in the country with personal history of the peacemaker, a question-and-answer transcript of select interviews, and a table of best practices in peacebuilding as demonstrated and reflected on by the peacemaker during her time at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice.

Dr. Rashad Zaydan of Iraq became a pharmacist to heal people. When her country was torn apart by war, her healing work expanded to include the physical, emotional, social and psychological needs of Iraq’s women and children. As the founder and head of the development organization Knowledge for Iraqi Women Society (K4IWS), Dr. Zaydan seeks to bring hope and empowerment back to the lives of Iraqi women and children, especially widows and orphans, through the humanitarian, educational, economic, social and medical programs that K4IWS provides.

A native of Baghdad, Dr. Zaydan is a survivor of multiple wars. The year she graduated from college and became a pharmacist, Iraq entered a long, destructive conflict with Iran; then came the Kuwait invasion followed by the First and Second Gulf Wars and 13 years of sanctions. During this time, Dr. Zaydan helped create charity medical clinics, taught Qur’an to young girls, ran her own private pharmacy and raised four children.

In 2003, convinced that war would soon return to her country, Dr. Zaydan organized basic first aid emergency training for girls and women in her community. As neighbors fled Baghdad before the invasion, she moved medical supplies and medicines from her private pharmacy to her home. After the bombs began to fall and as the city collapsed outside, neighbors started knocking on her door for medical help. Dr. Zaydan converted her family’s home into an emergency clinic, giving away medicines and treating minor medical emergencies out of her garage.

In the aftermath of invasion, but still in the chaos of violence, Dr. Zaydan gathered her women friends to rehabilitate their community. Dr. Zaydan’s first priority was the destroyed schools, which had become impromptu bases for the Iraqi government and U.S. forces. As occupation continued, she responded to the disempowerment and loss of faith that many women felt in her community due to the lack of security and ability to move freely in the city. She had a vision of a center that would be a refuge for women, a place where they could take classes, receive medical services and, most importantly, connect with other women and share their experiences.

That was the beginning of K4IWS and their first office in Baghdad. Seeing the immediate and wide- scale humanitarian relief needed to decrease the violence, she and other Society members responded where they could and sought to build peace.

Publication Date


Document Type



peacebuilding, Women PeaceMakers, Iraq


Peace and Conflict Studies

UM AL-IRAQ (THE DATE PALM TREE): The Life and Work of Dr. Rashad Zaydan of Iraq