Leadership and political participation
In various parts of the world, women are under-represented in leadership and political roles. They are underrepresented as voters, as politicians and as leaders. This happens despite their proven abilities as leaders and as agents of change, and they continue to face obstacles impeding their participation in political life. They face structural barriers represented in discriminatory laws and institutions that limit their options if they wish to run for public office.
As the 2011 UN General Assembly resolution on women’s political participation notes, “Women in every part of the world continue to be largely marginalized from the political sphere, often as a result of discriminatory laws, practices, attitudes and gender stereotypes, low levels of education, lack of access to health care and the disproportionate effect of poverty on women.” Women as individuals have overcome these obstacles with great acclaim, and often to the benefit of society at large. But for women as a whole, the playing field needs to be level, opening opportunities for all.
Iraqi women in politics
For decades, Iraq has been suffering from wars and embargoes that impacted the lives of its people as a whole. Women in particular have been paying the heaviest price. During past conflicts, many women were killed, and many others suffered enslavement, torture, rape, imprisonment and other types of crimes and persecution. Around 1.5 million displaced women and girls are still living in tough and threatening conditions around the country, many lacking their basic rights. Gender-based violence is prevalent at alarming rates, particularly among women and girls who have lived under the rule of the terrorist ISIL group.
Even after the defeat of ISIL, women still suffer due to many reasons. This gives rise to the role of UN Women which is helping the country to meet its commitments, to ensure that women and girls gain their rights, including their right to equality, empowerment and to have them properly represented in all aspects of life, including political and other leading roles.
UN Women role
To achieve this goal, UN Women in Iraq provides its technical expertise and assistance with the aim of:
I- Supporting the strengthening of global norms and standards to accelerate progress towards gender equality and women’s empowerment and advocating for systematic integration of gender perspectives into sectoral norms and standards.
II- Promoting more effective coordination, coherence and gender mainstreaming across the UN system in support of commitments for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Strengthening implementation of global norms and standards
In working to achieve the work towards strengthening global norms and standards, UN Women in Iraq partnered with the three state powers – the executive, the legislative and the judiciary authorities – and major governmental stakeholders in order to support the translation of global norms into national legislation, policies and development plans at the regional, national and local levels as part of its operational activities. As a result, the following was achieved:
A- MoU with the President’s Office:
Building on a trusted relationship, UN Women signed an MOU with the Gender and CSO's office at the Presidency of the Republic. a) In this context, UN Women was the only UN agency that participated in the Constitutional Reform Committee and suggested many reform articles to guarantee more rights to women and contribute to gender equality. b) UN Women was also a member of the Task Force that drafted the current Violence Against Women draft law that has been submitted by the Iraqi President to the Parliament at the end of September 2019. c) UN Women produced two position policy papers: the first one to document the suggested articles for the constitutional reform, and the second one to explain the joint position of UNW, UNFPA and UNAMI on the importance of enacting the Anti-Domestic Violence Law.
B- Privileged relationship with Ministry of Justice:
UN Women is partnering with the Ministry of Justice – which oversees the production of the CEDAW and Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report – by providing technical expertise to the committee in charge of presenting the national Report in Geneva. UN Women is also providing its technical expertise to the Human Rights and Gender National Strategy, aiming at implementing all the CEDAW and UPR recommendations for the next four years.
C- Strong collaboration with the women machinery:
UN Women is providing technical expertise to produce the Beijing +25 report, as well as the second Enhancement of Women Status Strategy (2019-2023) and the second Iraq National Action Plan (2019-2023) for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325. UN Women is continuing to advocate for an effective and efficient women machinery and produced a position paper in this regard.
D- Privileged partnership with the High Judicial Council:
Building on a trusted relationship with the President of the High Judicial Council, UN Women organized leadership capacity development workshops in which more than 200 judges and prosecutors participated. The workshops tackled issues that included gender equality and the importance of enacting a law to address violence against women. UN Women produced specific guidelines for magistrates to promote and guarantee women’s access to justice, based on a preliminary research, including a overview of the Iraqi jurisprudence system.
Coordination across UN system
As mentioned, UN Women works to promote more effective coordination, coherence, and gender mainstreaming across the UN system in support of commitments for gender equality and women’s empowerment. UN Women Iraq is committed to providing a strong collaborative advantage to achieve its mandate through leveraging the respective mandates and strengths of other sister agencies, by acting as a catalyst to promote UN coherence and partnerships in support of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Accordingly, UN Women has been greatly involved in:
- The review and gender mainstreaming within the Common Country Analysis (CCA).
- The contribution to the production of the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) through the participation in its four Priority Working Group Outcomes, in line with national priorities based on national development plans and strategies. UN Women is also committed to supporting the achievement of the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG5) and all its 10 targets, in addition to its work on the gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 sustainable development Agenda.
- UN Women leads the UN Country Team Gender Task force aiming to develop comprehensive joint programmes to address the needs of Iraqi women and girls.
- The contribution including the compilation of all agency’s input to the production of UN Country Team Confidential CEDAW report.
- UN Women is one of the UN agencies contributing to the “socioeconomic post-COVID-19 recovery strategy”, led by UNDP. It is the main contributor to the gender chapter and in charge of mainstreaming gender within all the strategy.
- UN Women produced a Guidance Note on the COIVID-19 response aiming at providing specific actions for the engagement of the government, the civil society and the international community.
- UN Women utilizes its specialized capabilities to provide gender expertise to the UN Country Team and relevant committees and working groups.