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Dr. Widad

Icon of Peace,
& Courage

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Striving to make the world a better place

A multiple award-winner, international humanitarian, global women empowerment icon, and former senior lobbyist at the United Nations, Widad is also a lifelong human rights leader whose mission is to save lives and alleviate suffering via, among other things, advocating against armed gender-based violence, promoting peace and equal rights and opportunities for all, and mitigating the impacts of man-made conflicts on humans and the environment.

Ranked among the world's notable figures like President John F. Kennedy, Mother TeresaArchbishop Desmond Tutu and HH the Dalai Lama, Widad is the co-founder of Defend International – an NGO devoted to peace, advocacy and human rights. In addition to being accredited as observer and participant in major United Nations meetings and other international conferences, she has facilitated a series of innovative projects aimed at promoting a culture of peace and justice. From 2006-2013, she advocated for the adoption of 3 UN agreements, including a declaration on the use of rape as a weapon of war in conflict zones. In 2014, she spearheaded the global campaigns: Save Kobane, Save Christians, Save Yazidis, We Want Justice and Save Humanity - an exceptional activism which ultimately led to the protection of millions of endangered civilians and the liberation of thousands of enslaved women and children.

The success of her endeavors has resulted in her being awarded the 2017 Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) Peace and Freedom Award for her lifelong commitment to peace, justice and dignity for all, the 2018 International Woman Harmony Award for devoting her life to defending human rights, the Davenport Mayor Medal for her lifetime of advocacy and commitment to the rights and liberty of the persecuted populations in the Middle East, the 2014 International Pfeffer Peace Award for her worldwide efforts in support of peace and justice, and the 2013 Special Prize for bridging the gap between cultures. She has also been honored as a Woman of the Year 2020 for her achievements and for being an inspirational woman.

Widad's overall life mission exemplifies the importance of each component of human wellbeing. Academically, she holds a PhD in public health and epidemiology, a master's degree in genetics and is a peer-reviewer for high-profile medical journals. Her name, Widad, is a derivative of Wendidad or Venidad, which is a portion of the sacred texts of Avesta, the Holy book of Zoroastrianism (the ancient religion of Kurds). Widad means the force that stands against the evil forces.


"My heart aches for you… for them in you For angels shaking in fright… on a dreadful night For them on site… for flames leaping on every height For blood rolling like thunder… o'er a fragile kite For souls so bright… like remnants of light For a desperate plight… for hands held tight My love, in my world… where no hope is in sight And no right is right… what words can I write? Our song went lost… with main and might I'll tell you tonight… in the hush of midnight Stay here and fight… for a mournful rite" ~ Dr. Widad

"It was a horrible journey into the underworld... They crept around, and their filth polluted my body in January 1003... When they were done, they returned back to darkness where they belong. Before their departure, they stole a part of me and threw it inside their dark well. A part of me that I still miss and will probably miss for the rest of my life. That part which in this very moment is howling and screaming. The part that visits me in my sleep in the form of nightmares. The part that searches for a safe haven, well aware it's nowhere to be found. For never was a time more full of horror than when the wind howled a dismal tune. A tune of woe for us and my torture. A sound like sighing echoed in the empty corners, piercing the hearts of our mourners." ~ Dr. Widad Akreyi

The above are excerpts from Widad's book "The Viking's Kurdish Love" series

The Viking's Kurdish Love on Amazon


"Dr. Akreyi is one of the youngest winners of the Pacem in Terris award, but her achievements are no less remarkable than previous winners, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, and Desmond Tutu. She brings not only the message of what she's seen and the atrocities she's chronicled, but also energy and vitality to this continuing work. She may very well be part of the next generation of these leaders." ~ Director Kent Ferris

"I had the honor to meet Dr. Widad. She is the most Empowering woman I ever met... You are among the most inspiring women in this planet. Getting to meet you has been a tremendous honor for me, a source of further strength and inspiration... Her experience teaches each of us to fight for what is right, to live the change we want to see, to be thankful for all we have in life. Grazie Grazie Grazie, our path will cross soon again somewhere in this world." ~ Neuroscientist Dr. Susanna Rosi

"I am struck by Akreyi's experience as reflected in 13 other women who have won the honor (Pacem in Terris Peace and Freedom Award). Like the others, Akreyi started out with an ordinary life, had an experience and went on to do really extraordinary things. Like Dorothy Day and Sister Helen Prejean, the doctor's efforts in social justice will add to the legacy of the award, and to the contributions made by other pioneering women. These women stood up to power and authority and did not back down. Sometimes we all need to do this." ~ Director Loxi Hopkins

"Dr. Widad is a very unusual person. Her incredible effort for human rights, international peace, freedom and justice is admirable and second to none. She has, among other things, fought to secure her advocacy goals for the benefit of humankind... She fully deserves the international Pfeffer Peace Prize for her efforts, and she is clearly a natural candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize." ~ Mr. K. Flemming Olesen

"Widad - You were a very special guest in our community and brought a very important message that so many of us had the opportunity to hear. You are certainly a great role model for my granddaughters and I hope they are able to keep in touch with you in the future. Your actions are a blessing." ~ Executive director Allan G. Ross

What's Next?

Stay Tuned!
A new edition of Widad's memoir will be published soon.