She was known for saving the lives of many British army officers during World War I and was awarded the title of Khan-Bahadur by the British commander.
Lady Adela, called the "Princess of the Brave" by the British, was a famous and cultured chief of the Jaff tribe, one of the biggest Kurdish tribes, if not the biggest, native to the Zagros area, which is divided between Iran and Iraq.
Adela Khanem was of the famous aristocratic Sahibqeran family, who intermarried with the tribal chiefs of Jaff.
Vladimir Minorsky has reported several cases of Kurdish women running the affairs of their tribes.
He met one of these female chiefs named Lady Adela in the region of Halabja in 1913.
This regime of polygyny was, however, practiced by a minority, which included primarily the members of the ruling landowning class, the nobility, and the religious establishment.
Sharaf ad-Din Bitlisi also mentioned three Kurdish women assuming power in Kurdish principalities after the death of their husbands in order to transfer it to their sons upon their adulthood.In the court of the powerful Bidlis principality (region in Turkey), Kurdish women were not allowed into the marketplace, and would be killed if they went there, but women did occasionally assume power in Kurdish principalities after some Ottoman authorities had made some exceptions by accepting the succession in those principalities by a female ruler.In the late 19th century, Lady Halima Khanim of Hakkari was the ruler of Bash Kala until she was forced to surrender to the Ottoman government after the suppression of the Bedir Khan revolt in 1847.In other provinces of the area it looked barely better.Also in southeastern Turkey, a report by the BBC estimated that almost a quarter of all marriages are polygamous.However, despite the progress, Kurdish and international women's rights organizations still report problems related to gender equality, forced marriages, honor killings and in Iraqi Kurdistan also female genital mutilation (FGM).