The Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) works on academic research and community development. It seeks to become a hub of knowledge and conceptual discussions, which will then be disseminated within society through different outreach strategies. In effect, the ultimate aim of the center’s community initiatives is to provide the basis for normative change and development by providing training, sharing information, and supporting women’s economic empowerment, leadership and management. In order to achieve those goals, the CGDS aims to establish strong links and serious dialogue with internal and external institutions such as government bodies, gender programs in other universities, and local and international NGOs. Those will allow for more coordinated, relevant, and efficient development initiatives.
The Center for Gender and Development Studies (CGDS) at AUIS is following international models of gender centers and implanting them in the socio-political context of Kurdistan and Iraq. Years of dictatorship and political upheaval in Iraq and the greater Middle East have translated into high levels of violence in society especially toward women. The growing gap between rich and poor, and corruption and nepotism in the post-Baath governments led to further disintegration in the fabric of society. Women have had the lion’s share in the post-conflict turmoil, experiencing gender-based discrimination, marginalization, and violence. It is therefore essential to develop an authentic program rooted in the interests and concerns of the intersecting relevant communities in Iraq.
The Center was formally launched on February 11, 2016 at a conference, "Ezidis Beyond ISIS: Gender, Genocide and Return", hosted by CGDS and the Institute of Regional and International Studies at AUIS.