Improving Policy, Service Delivery, Gender Equality, and Responsiveness to Iraqi Citizens

Awarded: October 2018 (will be completed in September, 2021)

In 2018, The Free Iraq Foundation (IF) received funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to pursue a 3-year project in partnership with Global Partners Governance (GPG, United Kingdom). The project is a direct response to requests for support from senior politicians, officials, parliamentary staff and civil society organizations after the May 2018 elections in Iraq. The aim of the project is to make the policy and legislative process in Iraq more representative of the concerns, issues and needs of the Iraqi people and to address the persistent gender inequalities in both policies and political representation in Iraq. These two goals are being targeted through the four following strategic objectives:

The project seeks to improve

  • the quality and timeliness of policy and legislation emerging from parliament,
  • to address actual needs of citizens at the local level,
  • improve public responsiveness from Iraq’s politicians and institutions, and finally,
  • rectify the shortcomings in gender equality in both policies and political representation.

To achieve the project’s goal, we use a two-fold approach by working with both civil society and the Parliament (deputies and administrative branches of the CoR), to develop mechanisms for outreach, and strengthen the capacities of both sides for meaningful dialogue, and the capacity to engage in a constructive way on issues of priority concern for citizens.

With regards to improving the responsiveness from political decision-makers to issues and concerns from citizens, the project seeks to develop mechanisms for public engagement in the parliamentary decision-making process, that can help improve communication and cooperation between citizens and the Parliament. We address this through consultations and fact-finding with civil society experts and organizations on topics of parliamentary oversight inquiries (for pre- and post-legislation), as well as through connecting citizens with legislators on local service delivery issues via the regional Offices of Parliament (Basra and Nenawah).

Our key beneficiaries and partners in this project are the Iraqi Parliament, – including the parliamentary leadership, MPs, committees and staff, regional CoR Offices (COROs), – as well as civil society organisation (CSOs) and women MPs with a particular focus on newly elected women in Parliament (CoR). To successfully engage our partners in Parliament and in civil society, the project draws on the complementary skills of IF and GPG: It combines the expertise of GPG in working for more than 10 years with the Iraqi Parliament and providing support for political institutions in the MENA region, with IF’s experience and effectiveness of working in partnership with civil society, think tanks and politicians in Iraq, with special regard to equal participation of Iraqi women within Iraqi society and in politics.

The project also has a cross-cutting focus on women’s empowerment, that aims at improving gender equality in both political representation and in Iraqi policies and legislation.

Support to women MPs on issues of political leadership, gender-sensitive legislation and policy-making is being provided through activities aiming at the following outcomes:

  • More prominent role played by women MPs in Parliament through strengthened leadership skills and enhanced knowledge on their roles and responsabilities
  • Enhanced knowledge of legislation, including a better understanding of specific laws and how to work on their gender-perspective
  • Strengthened position of the Women’s Committee in Parliament through capacity-building and its link to the network of women MPs and to UN Women
  • Standard processes for monitoring Iraq’s international commitments (CEDAW and UNSCR 1325), developed by the women’s committee and the women’s network
  • Gender-sensitive analysis a standard within the policy and legislative process
  • Regular and routine cross-committee dialogue, and trusted mechanisms for discussion of legislation, and on priority policy areas for women MPs.
UPDATE 2021: Media Communication Workshop

As part of the Sida-funded 3-year project “Improving Policy, Service Delivery, Gender Equality and Responsiveness to Iraqi Citizens”, jointly implemented by Iraq Foundation and Global Partners Governance (GPG, UK), IF held a two-day training workshop on skills for Media Communication for women MPs in Suleimania on December 4 – 5, 2020. The workshop with 15 women MPs and focus on first-term MPs was the first one in a series of the project’s capacity-building activities in Year 3, that all aim at strengthening political leadership of female representatives in Parliament, and enhancing the knowledge of gender-sensitive legislation. The first workshop addressed a priority issue of training for women MPs, which had been identified through continuous needs assessment with the women’s committee and other women MPs, and was reconfirmed by the Chair of the women’s committee in view of its relevance to help prepare for the parliamentary elections in Iraq in 2021.

A trainer giving the media workshop to women participants

The IF Media workshop was very instructive, motivating and inspiring for the 15 women participants (among whom 10 first-term MPs) from six parliamentary committees (Women’s Committee, Services & Reconstruction, Finance, Oil & Gas, Education and Economy and Investment). Participants highlighted that the training provided them with knowledge and skills that are critical and have a significant practical benefit for their work with the media. The training on how to handle different types of media included TV appearance as well as preparation of interviews or briefings for various media platforms, ways to use social media, how to gain media support as well as how to use leadership when dealing with the media. Women MPs considered the workshop very important in view of the upcoming elections, since it helped them learn how to focus the media on their work and make their achievements in parliament and their governorates known with the public. IF will continue the media training through online classes for the women MPs and their office staff.

“This training workshop is adding to us new skills, because we were reluctant to dealing with the media, and now we are more courageous to face the media. This training taught us how to be in control of the topic and not to allow the media to distract us from the topic of the meeting, as well as reduce my words to one piece of information (…).”

“We will face the media after we were not comfortable with it.”
“I am strongly ready for the new elections.”