KMEWO started as self-help organization to provide help and support to women from Kurdistan, Middle East and North Africa, who were fleeing civil wars, state and gender persecution, domestic violence and honour killings. The group was set up by a group of Kurdish women who hold a public meeting to raise British public’s awareness of honour killing after the killing of British citizen Sobhia Nadir in Sulaimania (Kurdistan) during her visit to her relatives in October 1997. Twenty two Kurdish women who attended this public meeting, which agreed to set up a women organization to support women victim of domestic violence and honour crimes both in the UK and abroad. Since then the group has grown into a well-known organization that is highly respected within the Kurdish and Middle Eastern Communities, the statutory and public sector organizations.
Through its campaigning and policy work relating to domestic violence and honour killing, KMEWO has gained the recognition and support of the police, the Crown Prosecution Office and a number of funders, including the Big Lottery Fund, CPF and Nationwide Foundation. The latest conference: End Honour Based Violence- the way forward, held on 28th March 2008 was attended by 250 people among them Metropolitan Police and local authority officials, health officials, women’s agencies, community organizations, academics, journalists and individual women were present.
KMEWO opened a second office in Southwark to enable women living in South London to have better access to its services. KMEWO is primarily a London wide organization but time to time there are telephone enquiries from elsewhere in the Country, from Europe and from Kurdistan. The Organisation currently employs five staff, a Director and a Development Worker (f/t) and two Advice and Outreach Worker and an Administrator (p/t); It also has a pool of ten volunteer workers plus a number of others that are available from time to time as required.
KMEWO is in the process of merging with the Middle East Centre for Women’s Rights (MECWR). This will strengthen its campaigning, lobbying and information work due to MECWR’s extensive expertise in this area., all with valuable skills and experience covering PR, networking, campaigning and policy influencing, book-keeping and financial management, outreach and marketing.
Currently the main areas of work are:
- Advice and advocacy
- Education and Training ( Learning for Living Project)
- Interpreting and translation
- Honour Based Violence Forum
- Campaigning and lobbying
- Newsletter and Publication
KMEWO produces quarterly newsletter in Kurdish (Awiza) and quarterly women’s journal in English and Arabic in partnership with MECWR. Both of the publications are tools for demystifying taboo issues and gender inequalities and for vast dissemination of information on rights and entitlements, services, events and opportunities for women. We produce information leaflets in Arabic and Kurdish. Our Website attracts several thousand visitors from the UK, Europe and Middle East.