Empowering Iraqi Women: Progress & Challenges on International Women’s Day

A Portrait of a Lady, Baghdad,1961. Photo by Iraq’s celebrated photographer, Latif Al-Ani.

On this International Women’s Day, EPIC proudly joins our friends around the world in celebrating the outstanding achievements of women, and in bringing greater attention to the ongoing struggle for women’s rights and empowerment in Iraq.

One year ago today, the government of Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani, alongside UN agencies, launched its National Strategy for Iraqi Women, 2023-2030. The new national strategy was developed and adopted with a focus on the importance of women’s political participation, the protection of women and girls, economic empowerment, and climate change. In adopting the new strategy, the government of Iraq also renewed its commitment to combating violence against women and girls.

As a first step, Prime Minister Sudani’s government created a coordination committee to be co-led by the Women Empowerment Department under the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, and by the Iraq Health Access Organization (IHAO), which was elected to represent Iraqi civil society organizations. The committee was established to carry out the national strategy and support efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, including trafficking, sexual assault, honor killings, and forced marriage and other harmful traditional practices.

One year later, much work remains to be done. While efforts have been made to establish a coordination mechanism at the national level, relevant national ministries are still working to develop their own action plans, and sub-national committees have not yet been established at the governorate level, nor have action plans been established to carry out the strategy at the local level.

Earlier this year, IHAO invited EPIC to join them in developing a proposal to support the implementation of the National Strategy for Iraqi Women, 2023-2030, particularly in combating violence against women and girls. We will continue to seek ways to generate the support and efforts needed to fully implement Iraq’s national strategy.

Answering the call of the International Women’s Day 2024 Collaborative Partnerships to #InspireInclusion, we are imagining a gender equal world: “A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated.”

Collectively, we can play a crucial role in encouraging the governments of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, along with the global community, to take more decisive actions in ending violence against women and girls. Let us strive to promote gender equality and empower all women and girls in Iraq, from the national to the local level.

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