Iraq’s Minister of Women’s Affairs Resigns after Budget Cuts

Nawal al-Samarraie, the Iraqi Minister of Women’s Affairs, resigned from her post last week largely due to lack of funds for her office. Her budget was slashed from $7,500 to $1,500 a month after a drop in oil prices. Al-Samarraie told the Associated Press, “I reached to the point that I will never be able to help the women. The budget is very limited … so what can I do?”

The Iraqi State Ministry of Women’s Affairs was founded after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, but has achieved little progress since. On a daily basis, women in Iraq face homelessness, lack of jobs, domestic violence and the possibility of detention during US and Iraqi military sweeps.

Other Iraqi ministries have faced similar budget cuts, yet Iraqi women’s rights activist lawyer Safia al-Suhail told IRIN that “when we talk about the women of Iraq, we are talking about nearly 65 percent of the population. They need a national and comprehensive strategy to help them enjoy their legal, health, and social rights.” Al-Suhail urged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to deny al-Samarraie’s resignation and instead help form an independent commission for women with a bigger budget, according to the Associated Press. However, al-Maliki signed al-Samarraie’s resignation the day it was submitted

Al-Samarraie told IRIN, “my office is inside the Green Zone with no affiliated offices in other provinces and not enough funds to hold conferences, invite experts for studies and implement development plans.” “How can I work and serve women under such circumstances?” Al-Samarraie plans to travel to an international conference in Turkey concerning Iraqi women. She said she would consider returning to her job and told the Associated Press that “maybe with the next government it will be a priority.”


Associated Press 2/8/09, 2/10/09; IRIN 2/9/09

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