She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “Someone can only be strong for the future when they remember the suffering of the past … this gives them roots.”
Hero Ahmad – Iraq
She works for the Kurdistan Save the Children (KSC); the Khak Press and Media Centre (KPMC);
and the Ibrahim Ahmad Foundation (IAF).
Linked to our presentation of Kurdistan Save the Children (KSC) on January 19, 2006.
She is a participant of the SOCIALIST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE for Building Democracy in Iraq – Working for Peace in the Middle East, in Rome, 18-19 July 2003.
Hero Ahmad comes from a high-profile family, as her father was a leading political activist, who was imprisoned in Abu Ghraib during her infancy. Her work has mainly focused on the Suleimaniya district of Kurdistan, Iraq. She is the founder and director of Kurdistan Save the Children (KSC), Khak Press and Media Centre (KPMC) and KURDSAT Satellite TV. KSC’s main objective is to ensure a better future for children, focusing on the economic and social spheres of family, health, education and housing.
Born in 1948 to a family dedicated to the struggle against oppression in Iraq, Hero Ibrahim Ahmad’s main motivation came from her late father, who was a prominent political figure in the Kurdish Movement, writer, lawyer and judge. In 1948 he was imprisoned in Abu Ghraib, and Hero, still a toddler, used to accompany her mother to visit him. In 1951 the family was exiled to Kirkuk and placed under house arrest until 1953. Then, in 1954, they returned to Suleimaniya, their hometown, where her father was wounded in an assassination attempt. The family moved to Baghdad in 1958, where Hero resumed her education. In 1962 the Kurdish Democratic Party, of which her father was a leading figure, was outlawed and the family was forced to escape to Suleimaniya. Then in 1963, following a military coup in Iraq and an attempt to arrest her father, the family fled to Iran, where Hero again resumed her education. In 1972 she graduated from Mustansiriya University, Baghdad in Psychology, and gave birth to her eldest son Bafil.
Presently, she works in the media and has founded a local TV channel, Khak, and a satellite channel, KURDSAT. She actively promotes art and culture and has been instrumental in supporting the younger generation artists. Being a musician herself, Hero has supported several music projects, both for fund raising and for the media, and is committed to continuing her support in the future. However, she is dedicated to employing the media to promote patriotic and developmental issues. For example, She recorded a documentary film that exposed the hardships and atrocities that the Kurdish people endured. She risked her life when she filmed the first wave of the former Iraqi regime’s chemical attack on the civilian Kurds. She smuggled the films to Europe with the hope of drawing attention to the plight of the Kurdish nation. Despite the sufferings and hardships – she was wounded several times and lived very roughly in caves and camps – she was relentless in documenting the distressful reality that she witnessed of thousands of displaced Kurds.
Hero set up the Women’s Union to bolster the morale of the women. Through this work she has inspired a whole generation to take an interest in arts and the media. As a result, music has flourished and women have come into the public arena, thanks to her impassioned campaigning for women’s rights. Since its launch, KURDSAT has become the most widely watched Kurdish TV channel in Iraq and neighbouring countries, as well as the Kurds in the Diaspora. The TV programmes have been instrumental in reviving general interest in culture, arts, film, theatre, debate and political satire and in promoting freedom of expression in a climate that was dominated by fear, censorship and oppression. Through the stations that she operates, Hero has sought to heal the rift between Kurds and other ethnic groups, especially Arabs.
Hero is currently the director of Kurdistan Save the Children (KSC), which she set up in 1991 in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the mass departure of the Kurds. Her aim was to provide food, shelter and education for thousands of displaced orphans. She recognised that at that time a grassroots Kurdish organization was very much needed, as the involvement of local staff would ensure a better understanding of people’s needs.
Hero was a member of the recent Iraqi interim government. Her relentless efforts promoting progress and modernisation, for women in particular and people in general, have put her name on the most wanted list by some Islamic fundamentalists. Nevertheless, she is a highly acclaimed and approachable figure working diligently to the welfare of her community.
Review of Recent Developments in the Situation of Arab Women, May-Sept. 2005;