Established in 2015 as a hub of knowledge and ideas to advance gender equity, the Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) integrates teaching, research, and community development. We aim to ensure that academic initiatives lead to normative change and improved gender relations, with the ultimate goal of gender equity. As a vector of social change in Iraq, Kurdistan and the MENA region, we seek to support women in their struggle to regain the voice and agency that belongs to them and to support women and men working together to achieve a healthy society. In 2017, CGDS launched the first gender studies minor in Iraq.
The Center was formally launched on February 11, 2016 at a conference, "Ezidis Beyond ISIS: Gender, Genocide and Return", at AUIS.
CGDS Mission Statement
CGDS integrates education, research, and community development. We emphasize education and research in order to produce and share knowledge, which we use to develop community capacity. Our aim is to advance gender parity in Iraq and the greater MENA region. Our main beneficiaries are not only higher education students, but the entire community. We firmly believe that the knowledge produced in academic institutions needs to be propagated within the larger communities. A holistic approach to tackling gender inequality is essential. This must include teaching, training, and conducting gender related research to produce, promote, and circulate knowledge. We believe in the importance of education, especially when it comes to bringing about normative change. Change can only happen when individuals (both men and women) start seeing the status quo as problematic. We believe, furthermore, that academic work and activism should be more closely connected. Finally, we believe that activists need to know more about theoretical issues and academics should be more involved in activism.
CGDS Vision Statement
In the ideal world, gender identity is not a barrier. We envision a world that celebrates diversity and equality. In this world, people—regardless of their ability, class, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexuality—will be free and able to think critically about and have equal opportunities in their societies.