The Iraqi Kurdish human rights activist Jamila Mahdi was born in a refugee camp in Iran's Sanandaj region in 1974.

Because of her father's asylum in Iran after the Kurdish revolution that year, then in 1979 she moved to Hilla, Iraq, and lived a difficult life full of struggle.

In 1980, she and her family were moved to a housing complex in an area between Kirkuk and Erbil (in the north of the country).

Despite her early marriage, persecution, poverty, work in agriculture, and raising her four children, she decided to continue her education and perseverance until she became an official at the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and obtained a BA in political science and a master's in business administration.

In 2020, the United Nations listed her among the most creative women in the Middle East, in honor of her efforts and inspiring story.

Childhood in the camp

And about the beginnings of her life, the human rights activist, Jamila Mahdi, shows that she was born in a refugee camp and did not have identity papers, and after that she was exiled with her family to the Samawah area, and from there to Hilla (south of Baghdad).

She added to Al-Jazeera Net, “Then we were transferred to a residential complex in an area between Kirkuk and Erbil (in the north of the country), and the compound included women and children only.” With the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war, the compound was bombed by aircraft, and it was 6 years old, so they fled to one of the villages and then to Erbil.

In 1984, she completed the fourth stage of primary school, and moved with her family to Mosul, and continued her studies in Arab schools to the sixth primary school, according to Mahdi.

Jamila faced the harshness of life as a child and while living in the countryside;

However, with strong will, she managed to achieve her ambition (Al Jazeera Net)

The harshness of the countryside, and

after the sixth grade, increased her tragedy when her family, at the age of 13, married her to a person living in a farming village, where she woke up at four in the morning and went to agricultural work.

Regarding her marriage memories, she says, "I lived a bad childhood in a society that did not want girls, and on the day of my marriage I used to play with children in the street, so they took me directly to my husband's house without a dress or a wedding, and marriage became just a service and a job, and I could not spend enough time with my children; Because of the long working hours. "

Mahdi went on to say, "I decided to return to study in 1998 and improve my condition. But my husband and older brother refused at first, so I threatened them with suicide to force them to agree. My younger brother helped me bring books to read at home, so I was able to succeed from the third intermediate grade, and then I examined the sixth grade." Literary and it succeeded. "

The human rights defender, Saud Mesto, director of one of the displaced camps, admires a beautiful life path as she was working in agriculture in the countryside, and then she fled to the city, and she faced difficulties in order to complete her studies, master the English language, and accept her to work in the United Nations.

He added to Al-Jazeera Net that he got to know Jamila in 2015 when she was working for the Human Rights Office in Erbil, during her visits to camps and writing reports on the conditions of the displaced.

Saleh praised the role of Jamila Mahdi in the relief campaigns during the war against ISIS (Al-Jazeera Net)

Humanitarian activity

and Mahdi found out that what she saw in the village of persecution and killing of women, prompted her to leave the village to work with organizations defending women's rights.

The human rights activist tells the story of her entry into the United Nations, saying, "I used to work in one of the largest hotels in Erbil, and I saw the activities of human rights activists and their support for women, so I liked their slogans, so I decided to study more so that I could work with them. Then I progressed and through the competition I was accepted in 2012."

It turned out that she specialized in the rights of minorities, people with physical disabilities and human trafficking, and worked on the file of minorities, as well as on the issue of Yazidis' rights.

Regarding her role in helping civilians, Muhannad Mahmoud, a media activist in (south of Mosul), said that Jamila was following the conditions of civilians affected by the war against ISIS, communicating with the relevant authorities, and helped remove 6 families from under the bombed houses.

He added to Al-Jazeera Net, civilians used to communicate directly with Jamila to inform her of any shortcomings that happen within the displacement camps, and when any violations occurred while fighting ISIS, indicating that her performance was distinguished.

In the same context, the director of al-Qayyarah district (south of Mosul), Saleh Hassan Ali, says that the human rights activist worked with them since 2014, and continued during the war against ISIS, and they had meetings at the organization’s headquarters, pointing out that she was meeting with tribal sheikhs and mukhtars displaced to Erbil To discuss the conditions of their regions, and urges them to move away from the spirit of revenge and stirring up strife.

During his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, Ali praises the beautiful efforts after the operations against ISIS, as they played a major role in providing urgent relief materials and encouraging international organizations to undertake the rehabilitation of devastated areas.

Jamila compares her fight against cancer to her struggle in life (Al-Jazeera Net)

Fight against cancer

Jamila discovered breast cancer in 2017 and took 4 chemical doses;

But the disease moved to the head, and she underwent multiple surgeries to remove the tumors, and took more than 25 chemical doses.

Mahdi likens her fight against cancer to her fight in life, as doctors asked her more than once to go home and spend time with her children.

Because she will die, and there is no hope left for her, confirming that this did not make her feel hopeless and still optimistic about life.

In the same context, Mesto points out that Jamila was steadfast in her life, suffered and defied difficulties, and she has now been fighting cancer for years, while at the same time practicing her work in defense of the rights of minorities.

Honoring an international,

Jamila believes that the reason for her selection among the creators of 2020 came as a result of her hard work, conscience and humanity in the organization, and her success in overcoming many difficulties since childhood, and she became a model for encouraging others.

And she concludes with advice to Iraqi women that they try to improve their conditions, even if they start changing themselves and their children.

The Iraqi activist expresses her hope that peace will prevail in Iraq, basic rights are available, that there will be no famine and wars, and that a just government will come, so that citizenship is real for all.