Merger of Parliamentary Committees sidelines Women

By Sara al-Qaher for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News. 

Merger of parliamentary committees further sidelines Iraqi women

There are no easy options for Iraqi graduates who want to continue their education with post-graduate studies.

If they have good grades, they may try to obtain one of the few free spots at a public university in the country. If their grades are not good enough to take that path, they could try to find a private university in Iraq to attend or opt to study abroad, which could be cheaper.

Given this situation, a growing number of post-graduate students are choosing to leave Iraq, bound for neighboring countries or India, where numerous post-graduate programs are taught in English.

Click here to read the full story.

Enhancing Access to Psychosocial and Mental Health Services

UNFPA and Spain Join Efforts to Enhance Access to Psychosocial and Mental Health Services in Iraq

The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) joined efforts with UNFPA to improve access to psychosocial, mental health, and GBV services to women and girls in Iraq through a contribution of €400,000 to the programme.

The conflict in Iraq has had major psychological and emotional consequences on the well-being of women and girls due to the continuous displacement, the traumatic events and the violence experienced.

Dr Oluremi Sogunro (pictured), UNFPA Representative to Iraq, expressed his gratitude for Spain’s support:

The psychological and emotional wounds of war in Iraq have left thousands of women and girls in need of mental health assistance and psychosocial support. The Spanish contribution will enable UNFPA to improve the capacity and access to these much-needed services, including legal support and referrals, to more than 1,800 women and girls in the country.

“This contribution will strengthen UNFPA’s mental health interventions through the improvement of the access to psychologists and counsellors who provide vital care and support for women suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), depression, and severe anxiety.”

Furthermore, the assistance from Spain will ensure the support of the UNFPA-funded survivor centres, Girls and Women Treatment and Support Centres; and Women Community Centres, in particular in improving legal support in hard-to-reach areas of Iraq.

(Source: UN)

Video: Women in Iraq Reclaiming Roles in Society

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The role of women in Iraqi society has come under the spotlight as more women assert themselves in all areas of society.

Rights activists have felt those in charge are resisting the change, but 25 percent of Iraq’s parliament are women and activists feel that is crucial as there is still a long way to go before women are treated equally to men.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan reports from Baghdad:

Video: Iraq’s Yazidi Projects face Funding Threat

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

In northern Iraq, several projects are trying to help Yazidi women support themselves and their loved ones after ISIL drove them from their towns and villages into refugee camps.

But as the threat from ISIL has appeared to diminish, so, too, has the funding for the projects. Although the fight against ISIL may be mostly over, many Yazidis are still struggling to rebuild their lives.

Al Jazeera’s Rob Matheson reports from near the Khanke refugee camp in Dohuk, in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq:

Iraqi Kurdistan struggles to end Violence against Women

By Fazel Hawramy for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Shaima was 17 years old and entering her junior year in school in Erbil. Her mother, who was worried about family “honor,” often challenged her daughter in heated discussions.

Eventually, Shaima’s family barred her from going to school. Around 4 p.m. on Oct. 30, the neighbors heard gunshots coming from Shaima’s house.

“This is not your business,” Shaima’s mother, who was outside the house, told concerned neighbors. The family claimed that Shaima had committed suicide, but it soon became evident that her younger brother had murdered her with an AK-47, allegedly over possession of a mobile phone.

When her body was examined, there were gunshots to her hands, head and chest, and it appeared to Erbil police spokesman Maj. Hoger Aziz that, out of her innocence, Shaima had covered her face with her hands thinking that she could protect herself against the bullets from the barrel of her brother’s weapon.

Click here to read the full story.

Baghdad Policewomen’s Roles Expand

By Khulood al-Amiry for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Baghdad Policewomen’s Roles Expand as they Rise in Ranks

As in many places, women who work in law enforcement in Iraq have yet to achieve equality with their male counterparts, but they’re making progress.

The Rescue Directorate of the Ministry of Interior deployed Nov. 17 a group of policewomen to patrol the streets of Baghdad and monitor the gates of girls’ schools, colleges, institutes and markets in a bid to combat harassment in public places. That’s just one aspect of their jobs.

Click here to read the full story.

New Strategy to Combat Violence Against Women in Iraq

Government of Iraq and United Nations Launch National Strategy to Combat Violence Against Women in Iraq

The Government of Iraq and the United Nations in Iraq launched today a national strategy to combat violence against women, a significant step towards achieving women’s rights.

This strategy provides an overall framework on which policy and decision makers will draw to take concrete actions aimed at preventing violence against women and girls and protecting survivors of violence. Endorsement by all stakeholders of this updated national strategy formalises the commitment of the Government of Iraq and the United Nations to take concrete action.

The launch event in Baghdad was attended by the First Lady of Iraq, Ms. Surbagh Salih, the Secretary-General of the Council of Ministers, Dr. Mahdi al-Allaq, the Director-General of the Women Empowerment Department, Dr. Ibtisam Aziz, ministers and members of parliament, members of the High Judicial Council, civil society and international NGOs, diplomats as well as representatives of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The launch was supported by the embassies of the Kingdoms of Norway and Sweden.

“It is a propitious day to be thinking and talking about the rights of women to live lives free of violence,” the Deputy Special Representative for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ms. Alice Walpole, said in remarks delivered at the event. “The national strategy to combat violence against women will be a significant tool for the Iraqi government to fulfil its international gender commitments, including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence against Women, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and the Beijing Platform.”

UNFPA Representative to Iraq, Dr. Oluremi Sogunro, stated: “This strategy is yet another win for women and girls in Iraq as it adds to the progresses observed in the past few years. UNFPA is proud to have worked with the Government of Iraq to develop this strategy through the provision of the technical capacities and expertise.”

Despite achievements in the field of women’s protection and empowerment, significant challenges remain, such as the lack of parliamentary endorsement of a Law to Protect Families from Domestic Violence. The delay in the approval of this law hinders the journey towards gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as overall national sustainable development and peace-building.

The United Nations reiterates its commitment to support and engage with the new Iraqi government, including the senior political leadership and the Council of Representatives, to advocate for the prioritisation of relevant legislation in the new parliament.

(Source: UN)

Putting an End to Violence against Women in Iraq

In Iraq, women and girls from different backgrounds remain at risk of violence, in their homes, at school and in public spaces.

According to a recent joint survey by the Government of Iraq and UNICEF, 37 per cent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 in Iraq think that violence towards women is acceptable, while a new UNFPA study shows that 63 per cent of Gender Based Violence incidents in the country are perpetrated by a family member.

As the 16 days of activism for the Elimination of Violence against Women kick off, UNICEF and UNFPA reaffirm their commitment to end all forms of violence against women.

“Violence towards women and girls is a violation of human rights and has a devastating impact on their health, well-being, and their futures. It can never be justified,” said Peter Hawkins (pictured), UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

“Women and girls make up half of the population in Iraq and they have a right to live free from fear and violence and be free to fulfill their fullest potential,” he added.

Dr. Oluremi Sognuro, UNFPA Representative to Iraq, said: “Ending violence against women and girls is not a choice, it is rather a long-term commitment and should become part and parcel of Iraqi society through joint efforts from all of us. We should do everything possible to support women and girls to have a life full of dignity and prosperity.”

In areas of displacement and return, threats and risks of violence against women and girls are higher particularly sexual violence and exploitation, harassment and child marriage. In Iraq, girls as young as 12 years old are being married off.

UNFPA and UNICEF with partners are providing specialized services, including psychosocial support, for of sexual violence in Iraq and working to prevent child marriages. UNFPA has also supported the launch of a specialized emergency helpline for survivors of violence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Together, UNFPA and UNICEF call on the government of Iraq to provide age-appropriate services to GBV survivors, for the trainings of judicial and security personnel to assist women and child survivors in a compassionate and sensitive manner that prioritizes the rights and needs of survivors.

UNFPA and UNICEF call on the Government of Iraq and/or policy and decision makers, for a stronger enforcement of legislations against early marriage to better protect children.

(Source: UN)

Iraq Initiative to Empower Women Candidates

Iraq Initiative to Empower Women Candidates run Parliamentary Polls

In order to promote the equal opportunities for women to play their role as an active agent of society and due to the importance of political empowerment, participation and mobilization of women in the Democratic Government in Iraq, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as part of its governance programme to strengthen electoral processes in Iraq, launched an initiative to empower and develop capacities of 200 women candidates, from various political coalitions, who took part in the recent parliamentary elections in Iraq.

Political and electoral processes should be inclusive of women and acknowledge a special circumstances and needs. Women’s participation and representation is supported by many international frameworks, including CEDAW, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, UNSCR 1325, UN Resolution on Women and Political Participation, and the 2030 Agenda. These frameworks acknowledge that women’s participation is fundamental to democracy and essential to the achievement of sustainable development and peace.

This initiative was aimed at strengthening women candidates capacities with a team of experts on electoral laws and regulations, leadership skills, communication using mass and social media (interviews and public speech), formulation of political messages, political campaigns and importance of gender equality. This training carried out in collaboration with Um-Alyateem for Development Foundation UDF, a local NGO, consisted of eight workshops targeting 25 women candidates each. An electronic platform for candidates who engaged in the program was created to exchange experiences and address questions through Facebook and viber. All candidates’ interviews were collected and disseminated by a YouTube channel since April 15th.

The Country Director of UNDP in Iraq, Mr. Gerardo Noto said: “Gender equality and women’s political participation are at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Indeed, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 and its target 5.5 aim to ensure ‘women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life,’ and are crucial to establish inclusive institutions at all levels, as called by SDG 16”.

The recent Report of the Secretary-General on Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (E/2017/66) unveiled that “globally, women’s participation in single or lower houses of national parliaments reached 23.4 per cent in 2017, just 10 percentage points higher than in 2000. Such slow progress suggests that stronger political commitment and more ambitious measures are needed to boost women’s political participation and empowerment.” In the Arab States, the average percentage of women’s participation in national parliaments is only 18%. This constitutes the second lowest performing region for female representation.

UNDP Gender Specialist, Ms. Sundus Abbas stated “UNDP not only believes in the importance of supporting the participation of women in the political process but also it is convinced of the key roles of women on political levels and the added value that women bring to policies, therefore UNDP promote gender team in IHEC with tools and methods to insure  gender perspective in electoral process”.

Dr. Amira AlBaldawi, the director of UDF and a member of the COR from 2005-2010, confirmed “Although  the Iraqi Constitution, in Article (49 – IV) sets the quota for women in the CoR at not less than 25%, and although the number exceeded 84, yet the impact was very limited and did not meet people’s expectations. In addition to the above, most electoral lists heads stated that they will present high percentage of  new candidates, which requires more support to enhance and empower women capacities, to allow them to  participate effectively in the election. This is why we think such initiative is critical to strengthen women participation in Iraq”.

Dr. Nada Shaker, professor at Baghdad University and one of the woman MPs, stated “ I participated in the polls in order to serve the people in need via legislation of Codes that deal with investment and basic services, UNDP initiative was  very useful but it should be conducted months before the election so that women candidates can make full use of it”. She said  “Since I have the skills and tools, I am looking forward to create a parliamentary bloc that is able to make change”. She added “I hope that Women MPs can form a bloc that play a key role in the parliament”.

(Source: UNDP)