Women’s Rights Activist Fern L. Holland was killed in Iraq on Tuesday night. Holland, who worked tirelessly in Iraq to help Iraqi women achieve their rights, became one of the first American civilian employees of the Coalition Provisional Authority to be killed in Iraq. According to KOTV, Holland’s family believes she was targeted because of her work on the Iraqi Constitution to ensure an equal role for women in the country’s new system of governance. In fact, Holland wrote an email to an old coworker stating “if I die…know that I’m doing precisely what I want to be doing,” reports the Washington Post.
Leading feminists have paid tribute to the work of Fern Holland to advance women’s rights in Iraq. Eleanor Smeal, the President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, stated “Fern Holland made the supreme sacrifice for women’s rights. It is because of her work and the work of the Iraqi women that women in Iraq do have equal rights in the interim law. I am humbled by this tragic loss and feel the deepest gratitude for her tireless work, passion and dedication to women’s rights.”
\The Chair of the National Council of Women’s Organization, Martha Burk, asserted that “Fern Holland was a tireless advocate for women and as far as we know the only strong advocate in the Coalition Provisional Authority. We hope that the Administration will not use her death as an excuse to drop women’s rights as a priority.”
Last fall, Aquila Hashima, one of only three women on Iraq’s Governing Council, was killed after her car was ambushed. pay tAt that time, members of the Governing Council in Iraq were pleading with US authorities to provide them with more security and bodyguards. Hashimi had been relying on family members to provide her with bodyguards.