Across Iraq, the number of displaced people in June 2016 exceeded 3.3 million – 10 per cent of the population. In the context of the ongoing crisis in the country, women and girls have been particularly affected and their ability to engage in livelihoods activities has been disrupted. Through a series of studies and projects, Oxfam in Iraq is working towards understanding community and conflict dynamics in order to engage conflict-affected women in economic life, in ways which empower them and increase their resilience. A key element of this is influencing local communities – and in turn, other agencies – to advocate for gender-sensitive livelihoods programming in such a fragile context. This article considers some of the lessons so far and reflects critically on our experience.