Under the slogan "I am a woman, I am proud", the Ladies of Baghdad Forum holds its first event to discuss women's rights in Iraq.
Under the slogan “I am a woman, I am proud”, the Ladies of Baghdad Forum has launched for the first time in the Iraqi capital city, bringing together prominent activists, politicians, community leaders and civil society members to discuss the state of the Iraqi women and how their lives can be improved.
With a focus on Baghdad but a intent to expand its remit across the country, the Ladies of Baghdad Forum discusses the many issues that bedevil Iraqi women. After all, traditional, religious and tribal attitudes towards society and women still prevail in parts of Iraq, stigmatising women who try to get into the workforce and limiting the education they receive even as they continue to suffer disproportionally from displacement and acts of gendered violence from groups such as ISIS. Even in cities like Baghdad, which is comparatively more cosmopolitan, traditional attitudes on a number of issues prevail.
The women attending the Ladies of Baghdad Forum hope that through their work and efforts, they can enact some meaningful change that will alleviate the conditions of many Iraqi women, allowing them to enhance their roles in society. Many of the participants here are aware that Iraq stands at a watershed moment: The horrors inflicted on Iraqi women by ISIS has galvanised them and they are very much determined to play an active part in the post-ISIS future. Furthermore, they hope to launch a number of affiliated groups that can address the specific problems of youth and children.
The Ladies of Baghdad Forum here is just one of the examples of women’s activism that has become increasingly pronounced in recent years. In northern Iraq, activists in Kirkuk are raising awareness towards the increasing number of women committing suicide while in Mosul, activists are working hard to ensure that the attitudes that allowed ISIS to prevail cannot take hold in their city again. In western Iraq, the women of Fallujah are taking active roles in the reconstruction of their cities, countering the stigma of working women. In southern Iraq, the Wajdan School in Basra allows girls and women who missed out on their education to catch up while encouraging parents to send their girls to school. And in eastern Iraq, the bookshops in Diyala are working hard to ensure that women can have easy access to books and educational materials.