In Iraq, Internews focuses primarily on empowering local media and civil society through a range of development and humanitarian programs. Internews’ priorities in Iraq include fostering freedom of speech, promoting gender programming, ensuring journalism safety, combating misinformation, supporting environmental journalism, and facilitating access to information.
Internews has a particular emphasis on promoting the voices of marginalized communities, women, and youth in the public discourse in Iraq. Internews has five inter-related objectives in Iraq:
- Objective 1: Increase the capacity of independent media, journalists, and other information providers to produce reliable high quality, evidence-based, solutions-driven, engaging content on social and political issues.
- Objective 2: Empower women and other marginalized groups to participate equally as citizens and decision-makers by strengthening and expanding their voices and public participation in Iraq.
- Objective 3: Increase independent media, journalists, and other information providers’ ability to operate safely and securely.
- Objective 4: Strengthen business management, revenue generation, and audience engagement of independent media.
- Objective 5: Strengthen citizen engagement on fundamental freedoms issues to hold the Iraqi government accountable.
The overall goal of the Women’s Voices project was to empower professional journalists and human rights activists to expose human rights violations, specifically focusing on reducing stigma and discrimination against survivors of sexual and gender-based violence. By leveraging their unique position, the initiative aimed to challenge societal attitudes and foster a supportive environment for survivors through enlightened, coordinated reporting and advocacy.
Open Iraq Initiative (OII):
The Open Iraq Initiative (OII) was a two-year project funded by the US Department of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) and implemented by Internews and its local partners between October 2018 to September 2021. The project’s goal was fostering the participation of Iraqi women in governance by enabling them to access, analyze, and use data on government budgets and advocate for gender equality in public expenditure’ as stated in the project’s technical narrative. To achieve this goal, the project successfully implemented several activities, which included gender data labs, digital security training and psychosocial support, content production, and stakeholder meetings. The project had two objectives:
- Build the capacity of media and women’s civic groups to produce data-driven reporting that holds the government accountable to its gender equality objectives.
- Engage elected officials at the provincial, local, and federal levels in constructive public dialogue on gender-responsive budgeting issues that directly impact citizens’ lives.
Azadi Zanyari (Information Freedom):
Azadi Zanyari was a two-year project funded by the US Department of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and implemented by Internews between October 2019 to September 2021. Its goal was to advance human rights and the rule of law in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) by improving the digital, physical, and legal safety of journalists. To achieve this stated goal, the project engaged in a number of workstreams, which included capacity building, mentoring, psycho-social support, peer-to-peer engagement, granting, and content production. The project successfully accomplished its objective, which was “IKR journalists are better equipped to safely gather information and report and are able to detect, prevent and counter digital, physical and legal threats.”
Rooted in Trust (RiT):
Rooted in Trust was a global pandemic information response plan funded by the USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, countering the unprecedented scale and speed of the spread of rumors and misinformation about COVID-19. The project aimed to contribute to healthy information ecosystems to build trust in COVID-19 vaccines and the public health response to the pandemic. In Iraq, the project implemented its activities from November 201 until April 2023. Project activities included but were not limited to rumor tracking, content production, capacity-building workshops for journalists, and information ecosystem assessment.
Internews designed Aswatouna II to directly address inequality between men and women, as well as the climate crisis, after multiple consultations with Iraqi partners. The Overall Objective of Aswatouna II is to foster informed, evidence-based, inclusive public debate on equality, environmental policies, and sustainable growth in Iraq. The specific Objectives are to increase the capacity and readiness of journalists, media outlets, and other information providers to produce and disseminate high-quality, evidence-based, solutions-driven, engaging content which is gender-sensitive, amplifies women’s and young people’s voices, and directly addresses women and men equality and/or environmental issues. Strengthen the resilience of women journalists and the media outlets that support them.
Promotion of Women’s Rights in Iraq (POWR):
The goal of the Promotion of Women’s Rights in Iraq (PoWR Iraq) project is to elevate underrepresented women’s voices and provide them with the tools and skills to advocate for the inclusion of women’s rights in government policies through raising public awareness through a national campaign to challenge patriarchal gender relations and stereotypes and promoting more gender-responsive political and economic policies in Iraq.
Environmental Journalism in Iraq (EJI):
Environmental Journalism in Iraq (EJI) is a 22-month project funded by the US Department of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). Internews, along with its local partner, implements the project across Iraq. The goal of EJI is to improve Iraq citizens’ access to information they need to engage in civic action, make informed decisions, and hold power to account; contributing to improved environmental governance and accountability. EJI will support independent media to produce inclusive, fact-based, and solutions-oriented content on the impacts of climate change, and journalists and CSOs collaboratively promote public access to information on climate change and environmental issues in Iraq.