Nadia Murad

Activist Type
Women's Rights

Nadia Murad is a human rights activist who identifies as part of the Yazidi community which embraces a mixture of Islamic, Christian, and ancient Iranian religious beliefs. At 19 years old, the Islamic State attacked her village and killed hundreds of Yazidi people with the intent of ethnic cleansing. Murad and others were taken prisoner and endured unthinkable harm. After escaping captivity and making her way to Germany in 2015, Nadia told her story with the intention that it would result in her abusers being brought to justice.

Murad now aims to help victims of abuse as the founder of Nadia’s Initiative, an organization dedicated to “helping women and children victimized by genocide, mass atrocities, and human trafficking to heal and rebuild their lives and communities.” Nadia’s Initiative partners with local communities and local and international organizations to design, support, and implement projects that promote the restoration of education, healthcare, livelihoods, WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), culture, and women’s empowerment in the region. All of Nadia’s Initiative programs are community-driven, survivor-centric, and designed to promote long-term peacebuilding. The Initiative advocates for governments and international organizations to support efforts to rebuild Sinjar, seek justice for Yazidis, improve security in the region, and support survivors of sexual violence worldwide.

In 2016, she was appointed the United Nations’ first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking. In 2018, she and Denis Mukwege were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” She is the first Iraqi and Yazidi to be awarded a Nobel Prize. More of Murad’s story can be found in her autobiography, “The Last Girl”.

Artwork by
John Custer

The piece is a mix of several visual elements relevant to Nadia Murad and Iraq. First the Kurdish Sun, “Roj,” which is the most present element as Nadia is Yazidis, a minority group indigenous to Kurdistan (Her minority group is part of reason why she was imprisoned specifically). The piece also in reference to the sun or a “solar disc” which is a common mark and reference for Utu, the Mesopotamian Sun God who was the also the primary god of “justice and protection” (because he was the sun and traveled the sky seeing everything). The last elements include the extension of one of the flairs to create a “burst” speech bubble visualize Nadia’s continued vocalization and advocacy against sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict with cut paper/shadow to illustrate explosions/bombing as well.


Iraq Flag
October 3, 1932
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