Women in Iraq mark International Women's Day in protest squares across the country and stress their important role in Iraqi society.
As the protests across Iraq continued, International Women’s Day was not forgotten in the protests squares, where women have been playing important roles. Women have both actively participated in the protests since their inception and have also provided support, whether moral or medical or otherwise.
In addition, women have acted as activists and journalists in the field, which, on occasion, have proven to be risky affairs, as kidnappings have abounded over the past few months.
Outside of the protest scene, women have proven themselves at the highest levels, taking high-ranking political positions and playing active roles in civil society organisations seeking to bring about positive social changes in Iraq.
They have been leading the charge to raise awareness of women’s rights and problems in hope of empowerment in post-ISIS era, despite the severe challenges that they continue to face.
Organisations such as the Masalla Organisation have been active in setting up workshops to help women gain skills in daily life to become more active in the workforce and more self-reliant.
The education of girls and women has also been a focal point in women’s empowerment in Iraq. For instance, the Wajdan School in Basra is a catch-up school that not only caters to such women and girls who have missed out on education.
The situation regarding the representation of women in politics is said to be even better in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI):
“I think that Kurdish women have achieved quite a few things in many fields. On the legal level, we are seeing progress when compared to other regions in Iraq. The Speaker of Parliament in Kurdistan is a woman, and there is a good number of women in the Council of Ministers. We hope the number will increase”, stated Bakhshan Zankanah, a women’s rights activist in the KRI.
Things have changed drastically since the downfall of ISIS rule in Iraq. The violence committed against women living under ISIS rule was unprecedented, with the enactment of extremely repressive laws targeting women. The terrorist group was also involved in a “sex trade” of Yazidi women in both Iraq and Syria. These crimes have now abated in Iraq and the most prominent challenges now include legal barriers that obstruct the equality of men and women as well as social stereotypes and prejudices.