Cultural Salon on “Iraqi Women as Peacebuilders II”

Baghdad, 20 June 2012

On 20 June 2012, a second roundtable discussion entitled “Iraqi Women as Peacebuilders” was held at Safia al-Souhail cultural salon in order to follow up with the previous outcomes of the meeting held on 7 April 2012 and refine the specific and concrete recommendations identified and elaborated through the five committees formed, representing parliamentarians, activists, ministry officials, academics, judges and experts.
Participants presented several important points concerning advancing the role of women in Iraq.  Priorities and ideas included the following:
1.  Developing a policy paper on women’s issues for the upcoming National Conference on Reconciliation.
2.  Members of Parliament stressed the need to build alliances with Iraqi Civil Society. Almost all participants repeatedly stressed the need to bring men and political party blocs into the process to mainstream the concept of women as peacebuilders.
3.  Several participants noted the need to form specific committees to address implementation of the Irbil Conference document, and use the working groups to refine a series of specific initiatives on a range of issues.
4.  A political parties draft law is currently under review by the Parliament’s Legal Committee, which will send a final version for consideration by the plenary.  Several participants stressed the need for a 25 percent women’s quota for party leadership positions, and that several approaches had been made to the Chairman of the Legal Committee.  Currently there is no agreement with the Committee to establish such a quota.
5.  Legal reform is a key part of any agenda.  This would include criminal code reform, domestic violence legislation, trafficking (Note:  a bill was later be approved by Parliament in March), personal status legislation, social security reform to protect vulnerable women, anti-discrimination legislation, and female genital mutilation.
6.  Several participants proposed establishing a full Ministry for Women, upgrading the current State Secretary configuration. The Deputy Chair of Parliament’s Women’s Committee noted that 87 MPs had agreed to build a full ministry for women.  Others suggested a “Women’s Commission.”  The to-be-establish High Commission on Human Rights was also mentioned as a new venue for redress and advocacy; one participant noted that human rights work in general “lifts all the boats.”
7.  Other themes introduced by participants included the need for educational reform, implementation of Constitutional guarantees for women, increasing women’s political participation (including a stronger presence in Iraqi ministries), the need to address children’s rights, and better implementation of existing laws.
8.  Several participants noted the need for adequate personnel and resources for the current State Secretary for Women’s Affairs activities.
9.  United Nations Representatives made a number of observations: UNAMI’s Human Rights Officer recommended bringing the UN Special Rapporteur for Women to Baghdad for an upcoming session. The head of UN Women emphasized the importance of further thematic meetings to flesh out Irbil recommendations, and the need to take a consolidated position to the heads of Iraqi political blocs. 

At the end of the meeting, the five committees announced that they had reached consensus on the need to develop targeted recommendations to advance the role of women in Iraq, based on the following priority policy goals:
1. The Role of Women in Political Leadership and Reconciliation;
2. Building Social, Economic, and Health Security;
3. Reviewing and Reforming Existing Legislation;
4. Building a Strong Educational System and Reforming Curricula; and
5. Fostering a Powerful Voice for Women in the Media.