Since its 2014 invasion of northern Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made women a target of its extremist agenda. Where ISIS rules, women are forbidden to work and go to school. ISIS fighters rape and kidnap women into sexual slavery and have executed women who insist on exercising their basic rights. As part of its Ending Rape as a Weapon of War Initiative, MADRE, together with its local partner, the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), runs an underground railroad, an escape network to assist women in danger. Through a community of local activists, MADRE and OWFI arrange safe passage for women and girls fleeing violence and provide lifesaving aid and shelter for women, including women survivors of ISIS sexual slavery. Women who seek refuge in OWFI's shelters receive human rights education to rebuild their lives as empowered activists. In addition to their underground railroad work, MADRE and OWFI also advocate for changes to Iraqi policies that threaten women and girls, including a ban on shelters run by local women's groups. This work is complemented by international advocacy work to confront violations of women's rights in Iraq.
In 2014, MADRE made a grant in the amount of $89,870 to build the capacity of OWFI to provide shelter to women survivors or at risk of sexual and gender-based violence and advocate for peace and human rights for all in Iraq.