Sherizaan Minwalla

Sherizaan Minwalla is a human rights lawyer who joined the Institute of Regional and International Studies as a Non-Resident Fellow in November 2015. She will be working with two co-researchers and with the support of AUIS students and students in the US to review media content in English, Arabic, and Kurdish to identify and analyze content against ethical guidelines developed by the Global Protection Cluster.

Sherizaan Minwalla has spent the past decade based in the Kurdistan Region and working throughout Iraq, Jordan & Lebanon. She is an expert on gender based violence and access to justice for survivors both in the US and in Iraq. In the US, Sherizaan ran a program to represent immigrant survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to legalize their immigration status under the Violence Against Women Act. Working with the National Immigrant Justice Center, Sherizaan represented several hundred women, men and children throughout State of Illinois.  From 2011–12, she was the Director of Legal and Social Services with the Tahirih Justice Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting women and girls fleeing gender-based violence.

In Iraq, Sherizaan was Heartland Alliance’s Country Director for four years. During this time she took a lead role in establishing Heartland’s legal protection programs to provide services to survivors of gender-based violence including human trafficking. Sherizaan’s holistic approach to direct services included training lawyers to provide client-centered services where lawyers advocated for their clients’ legal rights, and training social workers to negotiate on behalf of clients to address non-legal needs.

Sherizaan spent close to two years as the Deputy Country Director for Mercy Corps in Iraq, supporting a country-wide negotiation program, assistance to displaced Iraqis, and the launch of a new humanitarian program to respond to the influx of Syrian refugees.  Most recently Sherizaan was the Women’s Protection and Empowerment Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee in Iraq where she oversaw gender programming countrywide.  This was during 2014-15, a time of great crisis for the people of Iraq, particularly the most vulnerable women and children caught up in ever-expanding conflict. 

Sherizaan is based in Sulaymaniyah and is currently consulting on human rights programming. She obtained her Juris Doctor from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, a Masters in Applied Sociology from Loyola University Chicago, and a BA in International Relations from the University of Cincinnati.  She has published a number of articles and reports on violence against women and the rule of law.  She also created and maintains Iraq Gender Justice, found at www.iraqgenderjustice.org.