The founder of Women for Progress talks to the Post's Lillian Cunningham about how her illiterate mother encouraged her to pursue education and broadened her definition of leadership. (Lillian Cunningham, Gillian Brockell, Julio Negron and Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post)

When Suaad Allami founded Women for Progress, it became both the first legal clinic in Sadr City, Iraq, and also as the country's first clinic focused exclusively on helping women. Allami grew up in Baghdad and has seen her homeland devolve into war, go through reconstruction, and recently fall back into strife. Her continued commitment to providing Iraqi women with free counsel on domestic violence, divorce and custody issues has been recognized with several humanitarian honors — most recently the Vital Voices global leadership award, presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Allami is the lastest interviewee to join our On Leadership video series, which explores the personal experiences that have shaped the character and courage of interesting leaders around the world. In the video above, Allami shares the story of how her illiterate mother taught her the importance of education, as well as inspired her to become a leader in her own community rather than leave Iraq.

Other videos in the series:

Human rights activist Priti Patkar

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Bishop T.D. Jakes

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