Iraqi women leaders from Iraq’s Governing Council, the Baghdad City Advisory Council and women-led Iraqi organizations called for an increased role for women in the rebuilding of a democracy in Iraq and in its reconstruction. Speaking today at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, Iraqi Governing Council Member Dr. Rajaa Habib Khuzai said, “The U.S. must stop and think and must rectify its mistake,” referring to the appointment of only three women to the 25-member Governing Council. She called on the US to appoint a minimum of 10 women to the Council. Hind Makiya, from the Iraqi Women’s Foundation, expressed concern that if the US and the current Iraqi leadership do not “engage Iraqi women at this stage,” the “end result will be a failure.”
The women leaders also urged that women and security be prioritized in order for the country to move forward. Siham Hattab Hamdan, a member of the Baghdad City Advisory Council, expressed deep concern that women cannot go out without the fear of being kidnapped or murdered. “I can’t imagine a future for women in Iraq without security,” Hamdan said. One of the three women appointed to the Governing Council was assassinated in September. Khuzai said that the security situation in Iraq is getting worse and she herself has been threatened.
The Bush Administration pledged support for inclusion of women in decision-making bodies in Iraq. However, with only 3 women appointed to the Iraqi Governing Council, only one woman to the Iraqi cabinet, and no women appointed to the 24-member constitutional committee, advocates for Iraqi women argue they are being systematically excluded from the building of a civil society in their country.