Human Rights

Diwaniyah, Iraq: Challenging the position of women in a traditional society

Women in Diwaniyah are becoming more and more self-reliant as they gain a more visible presence in the public sphere.

Across Iraq, women are leading the charge in confronting the pervasive discrimination and challenges faced by women in Iraq. In the Iraqi province of Diwaniyah, one of the most conservative provinces in the country, women are determined to break the barriers imposed upon them by society. These women are looking for ways to make a living and provide for their families in an environment that has traditionally restricted the freedom of women to pursue their interests and careers.

As a result of discrimination and the restrictive norms that are imposed on women in Diwaniyah, many have been subjected to poverty and destitution and some have even been forced to beg to earn a living to provide for their families. Women in these rural areas are now looking to civil society organisations to help support them and give them a voice to raise awareness about this ongoing social injustice.

In the most rural areas of the country such as Diwaniyah, tribal law often governs most aspects of life, including the lives of women. This has forced them to stay at home or work long hours without being paid equally, while often restricting them from holding any fortunes or pursuing their education. Despite these challenges, women across Iraq are tearing down these barriers and perceptions.

In other provinces such as Mosul, civil society groups such as the Masalla organisation have been particularly active. This group has been fighting for women’s rights in a city occupied by extremists who did all in their power to make the lives of millions of women a misery. The organisation has been setting up workshops to help women gain skills in daily life to become more active in the workforce. A similar effort has been undertaken in Fallujah where women actively participate in the reconstruction of the city.

The Wajdan School in Basra is a catch-up school that not only caters to women and girls who have missed out on education, but they take active efforts to ensure that families send all their children to school. Similar efforts are undertaken by activists in Diyala and Baghdad who are working to ensure that women and girls have a steady access to books.

Women hope that similar initiatives will emerge in the province of Diwaniyah and across all of Iraq.