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On Global Open Day on UNSCR 1325, calls for men to champion and support women’s participation in politics and in decision-making

On Global Open Day on UNSCR 1325, calls for men to champion and support women’s participation in politics and in decision-making

Basra, 01 November 2017 – The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), jointly with UNWOMEN and in coordination with the Implementation and Follow Up National Reconciliation Committee (IFNRC) of the Office of Iraq’s Prime Minister, held a consultative forum with women leaders and members of the Basra, Muthanna, Thi Qar and Missan Provincial Councils in Basra on 01 November 2017 with the focus on strengthening women’s political participation. This is the fourth such meeting within the context of observing the Global Open Day and the 17th Anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325. 

As in the previous consultative meetings that were held in Karbala, Baghdad and Erbil in October, the participants in Basra echoed the similar concerns by women leaders across the country. They noted the retrogression of women’s participation in Iraq’s politics. They urged UNAMI and UNWOMEN to engage male champions to support women’s participation and to also press the heads of political blocs and political leaders to act in support of women issues.

In her intervention, Ms. Yusra Naji, Member of Missan Provincial Council, decried male political leaders for marginalizing women. “The Iraqi society is male dominated, women are not invited to negotiations, they have no political rights, they are not represented in the Presidency, the Council of Representatives presidency, there are only two women Ministers, yet there is no legislation preventing women from occupying these high level positions,” Ms. Naji said.

Ms. Zahra al-Bachari, Member of Basra Provincial Council, noted that “men can help lead the charge with women in enacting legislation that promotes women’s rights, repealing laws and policies that discriminate against women and limit opportunities. She further added: “Women should be promoted to leadership positions as we are observing the upcoming elections of both Provincial and Council of representatives, elections we aim to have more women represented in decision-making positions.”

Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, in remarks delivered by UNAMI Director of Political Affairs, Manoj Mathew, reiterated that Gender balance in Iraqi politics can only be achieved if political leaders could work side by side with women to share responsibility of breaking cultural norms and practices as well as institutional, structural and legal barriers that hinder women’s equal and meaningful political participation.

“We need male champions, proactive work by male champions, in partnership with women is necessary to establish an environment that empowers women’s political participation at all levels of governance and decision-making.” 

“For the historic settlement and reconciliation to succeed it must be inclusive. This is critically important for the unity and stability of the country and peaceful coexistence amongst all citizens, components and minorities. Women – and youth - must be critical agents of such positive change, in building a new post-Daesh Iraq, in shaping the future of the country for the generations to come,” the SRSG’s statement said.

Mr. Kubiš acknowledged the efforts of the Cross-Sector Task Force on the implementation of the Iraq National Action Plan on 1325, while stressing that “it is time to strengthen the implementation of the participation pillar of the Iraqi National Action Plan on the Security Council Resolution 1325 which reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts.”

UNAMI Gender Advisor, Ms. Mmabatlharo Dihemo, emphasized that political leaders can support the advancement of women in decision-making bodies by advocating for temporary special measures, promoting women to leadership roles and ensuring woman have equal career development opportunities. 

UN WOMEN Representative in Iraq, Ms. Dina Zorba, commended the government, civil society, and national and international partners for continued commitment to UNSCR 1325. Ms. Zorba urged the government to work to ensure gender issues are incorporated in all democratization and nation-building agendas, and called on the UN, the government, and the International Community to continue to advocate for and protect the rights of women and girls.  Ms. Zorba emphasized UN commitment to refocusing its work around women’s political participation at all levels. 

In the context of marking the 17th Anniversary of UN SCR 1325 and the Global Open Day, UNAMI and UN WOMEN also organized in Karbala capacity-building training on Basic Mediation and Negotiation skills for women leaders, Provincial Council members and civil society representative from Karbala, Wassit, Najaf and Diwaniya, (9-12 October). A similar training was  organized for women leaders and activists, members of Provincial Councils, district and sub-district councils from Basra, Missan, Thi Qar and Muthana (29 October-1 November). Both training programs were jointly organized and funded by UNAMI and UN WOMEN under the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and UN WOMEN gender and mediation strategy.