The US backed Governing Council in Iraq appointed 25 new ministers on Monday. The only woman, Nisreen Berwari, was named the Minister for Public Works. The council also created a Ministry for Human Rights to be led by Abdul-Basit Turki, a Sunni. According to Reuters, the ministers include 13 Shi’ites, five Sunnis, five Kurds, one Turkmen, and one Christian.
In addition, Governing Council members have been clashing with the US over the issue of security. The New York Times reports that Dr. Raja Habib Khuzau, a female council member, has been pleading for days with American officials to provide her with security but they have failed to help her. She has said that the US originally provided her with bodyguards, but ended up taking them away. Currently her only source of protection is from her brother and three other men who have no training; she is paying them out of her own pocket, reports the New York Times.
Women in Iraq have thus far not only been largely excluded from the reconstruction process, but looting, violence and threats of extremism have kept them in their homes. They are also facing restrictions on their rights by religious fundamentalist groups. In an effort to ensure women’s rights in Iraq, women’s rights groups such as the Feminist Majority have called upon the Bush administration to include women in leadership roles in the reconstruction of Iraq and to ensure that women are full participants in the new Iraqi government.