The "Empower and Consult" workshop aims to coordinate civil society and government efforts in order to improve the conditions of women in Iraq.
With the reconstruction efforts across Iraq gaining momentum, there is an increased understanding that rebuilding cities alone will not be enough without rebuilding an inclusive Iraqi civil society. One facet of achieving this goal relates to empowering women who have suffered immensely under the degrading treatment of ISIS militants as well as the resultant war and displacement.
The three-day Empower and Consult workshop was held with this in mind. Attended by 80 local women’s organisations, the event was organised through the joint efforts of the United Nations, the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers and the Japanese Embassy.
The main agenda of the workshop was to raise the issue of women in Iraq and highlight the main issues women suffer from. The organisations here point out that due to the invasion of ISIS and the subsequent displacement and fracturing of families, many women have suffered from abuse and rape, as well as experienced social stigma due to being widowed and having illegitimate children. The fact that many women in Iraq also lack education due to the prevailing attitudes across the wider Iraqi society also contributes to the marginalisation of women.
As such, the groups participating in the Empower and Consult workshop aim to facilitate the education of women, provide social security and support for those who suffered from abuse and stigma and change the prevailing attitudes towards women’s rights and participation in society.
The workshop here is the latest in the efforts to provide Iraqi women with more opportunities and outlets. Many of the attendees here view that existing traditional views on women across Iraqi society have contributed to the emergence of the horrific gendered violence employed by ISIS. For the activists here, the objective is not just to bring back the status quo of before ISIS but improve upon that to lead the women of Iraq to a brighter and more prosperous future.