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December 14-15, 2019 - Doha Forum

How ISIS Wins Women, How Women Win the War against ISIS

We addressed this under-researched and yet vital topic to curtailing the spread of extremism globally and maintaining international security. We featured the prize-winning essay on women and ISIS returnees in Indonesia from the National Defense University, along with senior international military leaders, development, and international law, and cultural studies experts. Topics included:​​

  • What causes women to “go to extremes” and how can we enable alternatives?

  • Who influences half our population and who does this half of our population influence?

  • Can female returnees and deportees of ISIS return,  reintegrate, and contribute to their communities?

  • What infrastructure is required to enable individuals and societies to “begin anew?”

  • Are we building societies of trust and forgiveness?


Mercedes Fitchett on the hidden role women play in defending their countries against terrorism

WFI’s partner, National Defense University, presents its award winning research on women returnees from ISIS on the Viewpoints stage at the @DohaForum

Our Candid Discussion Featured These Distinguished Speakers:

©2019 Women Forward International. All Rights Reserved

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Ambassador Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security Contact and Special Representative on Gender Issues for the OSCE Chairmanship. 


Ambassador Verveer served as the first U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues, a position to which she was nominated by President Obama in 2009. She coordinated foreign policy issues and activities relating to the political, economic and social advancement of women, traveling to nearly sixty countries and developing the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. President Obama also appointed her to serve as the U.S. Representative to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Amb. Verveer currently serves as the Special Representative on Gender Issues for the OSCE Chairmanship.


Farida Abbas Khalaf is one of more than 6500 Yazidi survivors of ISIS enslavement and genocide. She was born in Kocho,-Sinjar, Northern Iraq. She was a high school student when ISIS attacked her village, killing men and taking women and children hostages. Farida lost her father and her older brother. She was taken then into captivity with her mother and her other brother. Farida was held in captivity for four months where was subjected to unimaginable suffering including physical and mental abuse. Since her escape, Farida has been an effective part of Yazda global advocacy campaign to bring ISIS militants to justice, raise awareness and bring international attention to the Genocide. 


Ms. Khalaf is the author of The Girl Who Beat ISIS (2016), a book published in over 14 countries, and in her documentary film, “With Words Against the IS (2016),” Ms. Khalaf bravely relives her story. Ms. Khalaf is the winner of the 2017 Marsh Award for peacemaking and peacekeeping and the 2017 LiberPress Award. 

Farida Abbos Khalaf, Author: The Girl Who Escaped ISIS 


Mia M. Bloom, Author

Mia Bloom is Professor of Communication and Middle East Studies. She conducts ethnographic field research in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia and speaks eight languages. Author of Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror (2005), Living Together After Ethnic Killing [and Roy Licklider] (2007), Bombshell: Women and Terror (2011), and Small Arms: Children and Terror (2019 Cornell University Press), Bloom is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is regularly interviewed by MSNBC, FOX, NPR, and CNN for terrorism and national security related issues. Bloom received her Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University, an M.A. in Arab Studies from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and is completing a new book for the Brookings Institution Press entitled, "Veiled Threats Women & Jihad" (expected 2020). Bloom is the Special Series editor for Stanford University Press "Studies in Conflict and Violence."

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Iman Omar Suleiman, a scholar and civil rights activist Suleiman was targeted and threatened by ISIS due to his denouncement of extremism. Suleiman is also: Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, Professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Methodist University, Resident Scholar of the Valley Ranch Islamic Center, Co-Chair of Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square

Iman Omar Suleiman, Scholar and Civil Rights Activist


Moderated by Dr. Kent Davis-Packard, Ph.D., Founder and President of Women Forward International, author of forthcoming book on the Constitution of Medina: Islam's Most Known and Unknown Document

From Left to Right: 

Dr. Kent Davis-Packard, Ph.D.

Ambassador Melanne Verveer

Iman Omar Suleiman

Farida Abbos Khalaf

Mia Bloom

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