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IF Holds 5th Roundtable Meeting to Further Identify Gaps in Iraqi Legislation that Impact Women’s Rights: September 2013

The Iraq Foundation (IF) successfully conducted the 5th roundtable discussion which aimed at presenting the suggested reforms and its impact on women’s rights which is guaranteed in Sharia and the Iraqi constitution as well as the international declarations. 55 legislators from the Iraqi council of representative (ICOR) and provincial councils as well as judges, legal experts from the executive branch, religious clerks, civil society members and members of media attended the roundtable. The roundtable focused on providing support for these reforms and for using the media as a tool to raise the public awareness on the importance of these reforms to attain equitable legislation for women. The roundtable was attended by IF executive director, Ms. Rend Al-Rahim and chaired by Dr. Nawar Al Zubaidy, legal advisor at the ICOR. The roundtable was well covered by the local and national media.

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Ms. Bushra Zwaine, PM advisor on women issue, signed letter in support of WEL reforms, stating that these reforms meet Iraqi women’s requirements and that she will not hesitate to provide any support needed to implement these reforms.

MPs from the Women committee in the ICOR signed to indicate their support of WEL reforms, specifically stating that Article 380 in the Penal Code need to be amended according to IF suggestions.

During this reporting period, the Iraq Foundation (IF) conducted the Advocacy Campaign (AC) which included a media campaign that covered and highlighted the efforts of the Iraq Foundation and the WEL task force which included legislators who supported WEL activities, government officials, legal experts and IF partner NGOs.

Through the AC, IF produced 8 public information radio spots that covered WEL’s proposed legislations. Spots were aired 1560 times on local radio stations all over the country.  IF also distributed 7500 brochures and posters advocating for legal reforms to protect women’s rights. The brochures and posters were distributed to IF’s 16 partner NGOs and subsequently, to the public. In addition, AC members crafted and disseminated 20 press releases in their respective provinces to enhance understanding of the rationale behind the reform measures and build up support for the suggested improvements.

IF in collaboration with the partner NGOs collected over 28415 signatures, conducted 50 advocacy meetings with parliamentarians, Provincial members, tribal leaders and government officials to highlight the need to amend, repeal or draft new laws to bridge the gaps in the Iraqi legal system with special emphasis on women issues. The campaign also included broadcasting of live radio programs on Al Rasheed Station to support the campaign. Programs hosted members of WEL taskforce to enhance understanding of the rationale behind the reform measures and build up support for the suggested improvements.

As part of IF’s efforts to present the draft legislation or amendments to existing legislation that is prepared by WEL experts and taskforce to the Parliament, several meetings were conducted to ensure the best method for these laws to reach the parliament among these methods:  A follow up meeting to the fourth roundtable hosted by MP Sofia Al Souhail and attended by IF Executive Director, Ms. Rend Al Rahim, MP Intisar Al Jiboury, MP Huda Sajjad, Bushra Zwaini, advisor, PM office, Qasim Al Zamily, legal advisor to the State Ministry of Women, WEL Project Manager Ms. Suhaila Al Asady and Ghadeer Al Zubaaidy, legal advisor, Secretariat Council of Ministers

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Photos of Advocacy Campaign

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Photos of Meetings

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The Iraq Foundation (IF) conducted the fourth roundtable meeting, which aimed at presenting the draft legislation including amendments to the existing legislation prepared by experts to Participants. The roundtable meeting included legislators and representatives from related ministries and was conducted in collaboration with Safia Al Souhail Literary and Cultural Salon in Baghdad.

More than 80 participants attended the meeting including IF’s Executive Director Ms. Rend Al Rahim, legislators, former parliamentarians, high profile officials, US embassy members, UN officials and civil activists.

The event was also covered by the media, and captured by Al Fayhaa Satellite Channel on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AK9CHBtiExI

Furthermore, as part of IF’s effort to present the draft legislation and amendments to the existing legislation prepared by WEL experts to the governmental officials, WEL project manager Ms. Suhaila Al Asady and WEL advisor Juge Raheem Al Uagaily met with H.E Minister of labor and social affairs Mr. Nassar Al Rubai’ay. The WEL team presented the state shelters for the girls draft law, and explained how it is related to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA). The WEL team shared the task force’s opinion, that this law should be part of the Social Welfare (Act No.126 of 1980). The team also discussed the item drafted by WEL experts on sexual harassment in the workplace, stating that this law should be part of the Labor Code (Act No.71 of 1987).

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In January, the WEL team conducted a prep meeting with WEL advisor Judge Rahim Al Ugaily, and WEL research expert Mr. Ryadh Ibraheem. The meeting aimed at putting together a work plan on upcoming project activities.

In February, the WEL staff held preliminary meetings with partner NGOs to put together a unified advocacy campaign. This campaign will include locating posters, deciding on brochure distribution locations, planning advocacy meetings and particpants selection, agreeing on the content of the radio spots and deciding how to handle the signature campaign.

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January Meeting:

February Meeting:

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On December 13, 2012, IF conducted the Advocacy Coalition (AC) Meeting. The goal of the meeting was to familiarize partners with proposed reforms, provide feedback, agree on concrete advocacy plans, and prepare a unified advocacy campaign. The meeting was headed by Ms. Rend Al Rahim, IF’s Executive Director, and attended by 18 NGOs and civic leaders from Baghdad and other provinces. The meeting was also attended by some NGOs from Kurdistan as they expressed huge interest to share their experience from previous AC initiatives in the region (please refer to the AC meeting list of attendees attached).  Ms. Al Rahim presented what has been done so far on the WEL project and the suggested reforms. IF‘s partners shared their experience and provided feedback on the WEL advocacy campaign. IF and partner NGOs developed the following tools for the WEL advocacy campaign:

  •  Select different parties that present reforms to the ICOR
  •  Target influential decision makers
  •  Create a liaison committee from all provinces
  •  Form a strong partnership with the local media
  •  Issue a newspaper that updates the public on the AC activities
  •  Create local teams that carryout surveys mobilize and rally the public
  •  Conduct local activities in each province (meetings, workshops, radio spots, press releases, etc.)
  •  Target ICOR members who represent their provinces.

Finally, Ms. Al Rahim conducted a voting for the partners on the option to participate in the coalition and support the reforms or not. The voting was unanimously approved.

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On November 17, 2012, the Iraq Foundation (IF) conducted an initial meeting for the bill drafting process. IF invited legal experts, judges and professors to review the WEL taskforce recommendations on laws that discriminate against women and assist in the interpretation process of these recommendations into effective bills. Attendees included:

  •  Ali Rufaie, Former Dean, Law College – Baghdad University
  •  Ali Fauzi, Professor, Law College – Baghdad University
  •  Judge Hadi Aziz, Retired Judge
  •  Ahmed Al Mainy, Advisor, Shura Council
  •  Firas Zuhair, Advisor, ICOR
  •  Ali Omar, Advisor, ICOR
  •  Sabah Al Kerboli, Political Advisor, ICOR

Attendees discussed the nine articles selected by the WEL taskforce and its social and cultural heritage. The attendees also discussed potential experts, who will be able to carry out the professional bill drafting task.

On November 21, 2012, IF was invited by Mr. Sabah Al Kerboli, Political Advisor, Office of the Presidency, ICOR, for a follow up meeting in the ICOR to discuss further the laws selected by the WEL taskforce.  Mr. Al Kerboli showed a potential interest in the State shelters draft law. The next step will be conducting a meeting for the stakeholders (State Ministry for Women, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Finance and Women, Family and Childhood committee in the ICOR). This meeting will also include some of the shelter residents to discuss their needs and means to reflect them in the drafted bill. IF will following the same strategy on the other selected laws as well.

IF identified four legal experts to be in the Bill drafting committee:

  •  Judge Rahim Al Ugaily, Higher Judicial Council, Former Head, Commission of Integrity (COI)
  •  Ahlam Al Lamy, Board Member, Iraqi Bar Association
  •  Hisham Al Ftyan, Lawyer, Iraqi Bar Association
  •  Hamid Al Sakban, Lawyer, Iraqi Bar Association

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WEL was profiled in Al-Sabah newspaper. The headline reads “Women for Equitable Legislation Project Aims to Increase Legal Rights.”

Please refer to the WEL project website in Arabic www.welonline.org for updates on activities!

On September 22 & 23 2012, IF held the WEL Lessons Learned Meeting at Erbil International Hotel in Erbil. Over 50 participants attended the meeting including Iraqi lawmakers and legal experts from the executive and judicial branches, and representatives of civil society organizations from Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces, including the Kurdistan region.  Also, four regional experts from Tunisia, Algeria, Lebanon and Jordan attended to exchange and compare methods of advocating and adopting national legislations based on women’s rights. The LL meeting was attended by IF’s Chief Operating Officer, Ms. Selwa Al Gailani.

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IF has a number of new developments to share regarding the WEL project.

On July 12, Ms. Rend Al-Rahim, IF’s Executive Director, met with WEL staff in Baghdad to discuss the upcoming Lessons Learned Meeting in September. Six Iraqi experts provided research documents on laws that were determined by the WEL taskforce as requiring legal action. Five regional experts were identified from countries which had previous initiatives in promoting women rights.

On July 14, Ms. Al-Rahim, met with WEL Legal advisor, Judge Salim Rawdhan, and Iraqi experts to discuss the status of the regional experience report to be submitted by Judge Salim.

Also this month, IF continued working on obtaining the audio of the Bill Drafting Meeting as part of the technical guide IF is producing. IF is also working on identifying a video production company to produce the other portion of the technical guide from the lessons learned meeting.

Stay tuned for updates to the WEL website, www.welonline.org!

On April 7 2012, IF held the first part of the WEL bill drafting training at the Alwaiyya club in Baghdad. This “Policy Analysis” meeting aimed at looking at the impact of laws and their social, economic, financial, and political repercussions. Speakers included Dr. Kassem Inaya (Ministry of Planning), Haithem Al-Juburi (MP-Finance Committee) and Judge Salem Rawdan. The meeting was attended by 32 persons including members of Parliament, government officials, legal experts, civil society representatives, and members of the judiciary. The workshop was attended by IF’s Executive Director, Ms. Rend Al-Rahim.

The second part of the bill drafting training took place in Erbil on April 28th & 29th at Van Royal Hotel. This technical part was provided by a variety of experts including head and members of the Kurdistan Shura Council, members and staff of the COR legal committee, and members of the judiciary as well as professors who provided lectures on the technical language.

The activities were chaired by: Judge Salem Rawdan, Sha’ab Personal Status Court and member of the Higher Judicial Council. The meeting was attended by members of the council of representatives, senior government officials, legal experts, professors and civic leaders on women’s issues.

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April 7, 2012: Bill Drafting Workshop, Part One: “Policy Analysis,” Alwayah Club, Baghdad




April 28 – 29: Bill Drafting Workshop, Part Two: “Technical Part,” Van Royal Hotel, Erbil