The First National Conference 2005
June19 - June 21, 2005
Sheraton Hotel Irbil City
More than 90 activists, CSO leaders, researchers, policymakers, educators, and media representatives from across Iraq met in Erbil June 19-21, to participate in the first National Conference on Iraqi Women and the Constitution. The Conference was organized to address the impact of a new constitution on the rights of Iraqi women, including the personal status law, violence against women, and women’s participation in the political process. The conference attracted broad interest, evidenced by the diversity of age, ethnic and racial backgrounds, and professional affiliation among both the speakers and attendees
The Advisory Committee for the conference included academics, lawyers, judges, corporate representatives, officials with the United Nations and other international institutions, and a wide array of research, policy, and advocacy organizations. The conference was also assisted by the Ministry of Human Rights in Erbil and the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, and by a number of parliamentarians, including Dr. Munthir Al-Fadhel, member of the Constitutional Commission. Dr. Azza Kamel, an Egyptian specialist on women’s issues, acted as the conference consultant and principal facilitator. Such broad-based participation helped to deepen thinking on issues involved in women’s participation in drafting the new constitution, Personal Status Law in a range of political and institutional contexts.
The political and social transformation in Iraq presents women with challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, the disparities in wealth, the incidents of violence against women in the name of ethnic, nationalist, and religious identities and differences; the economic and social dislocation of population groups—all these present challenges for women. On the other hand, the proliferation of women’s NGOs, the rise in public awareness among women, and the expanded opportunities for participation in public life, offer women unique opportunities.
At the conference, researchers, activists, policy analysts, educators, business leaders, and the media gathered to assess the national ramifications of these forces and the complex tensions they create, and to define an “architecture of interventions” aimed at achieving greater political participation by women and ensuring that women’s rights are respected and preserved in the constitution. In seminars, round-table discussions, and policy meeting throughout the 3-day conference, panelists and participants examined the social and legal obstacles faced by Iraqi women and discussed ways in which the role of women in society can be enhanced, both by legal means through the constitution and legislation, and by organized activism. All panelists and participants stressed the imperative of a strong advocacy drive with decision-makers and active engagement by women in the constitutional process, with the objective of expressing their views and aspirations and making their voices heard.
Despite the diversity of regional, cultural and professional backgrounds, the women at the conference, as well as the men, demonstrated a unity of purpose and a commitment to the goals of strengthening women’s role in society and upholding the rights of Iraqi women in the coming era.
The final recommendations for Arbil conference:-
The conference participants agreed on the following recommendations, to guide their advocacy campaigns and provide a common platform:
- Inclusion of international treaties and conventions that relate to women’s rights in the constitution.
- Enshrining the principle of gender equality in the constitution
- Preventing all kinds of violence against woman.
- Increasing women’s representation in the National Assembly above the 25% present minimum.
- Ensuring legal protection for women’s rights in the coming period.
- Ensuring equality among all Iraqi citizens in the new constitution.
- Safeguarding the rights and participation of marginalized woman, especially those in rural areas, in the coming elections and in the constitution.
- Improving the image of women in the mass media.
- Ensuring the principle of citizenship based on equality, freedom, and justice among all 1raqis.
- Establishing a constitutional court to monitor constitutional compliance
- Including international human rights charters in school curricula.
- Combating extremist ideas and ideologies, and combating educational intimidation.
- Addressing social ills, including poverty and illiteracy.
- Educating women about their rights, especially in Personal Status Law.
- Strengthening Women’s NGOs to enhance the position of women in Iraqi society and to champion the rights of women and their participation in decision-making.
- Preventing discrimination against woman and exploitation of women
- Educating men on women’s rights and gender issues.
- Clerics can exercise beneficial influence in preventing discrimination and violence against woman.
- Opening centers to deal with women’s issues through scientific, social, and educational research.
- Islam should be one of the sources of legislation.
- Activating the Ministry of State for Women’s Issues to provide security for all woman rights.
- Encouraging the mass media to serve woman issues.
- Preserving the Civil Law on Personal Status, and amending some of its provision.