Women rights in progress in Federal Kurdistan / SESSION IN EU PARLIAMENT – BRUSSELS

Lorin Sarkisian / Roni Alasor – Brussels, 30 Jan 2014 – Ararat News (ANP) – While the situation of women is deteriorating in Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) actively promotes women rights. Prominent women rights experts and politicians discussed “The situation of women in Iraq” in the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels. The debate organised by the EP’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq was opened by Struan Stevenson, Chair of the Delegation.   

Mrs Paxshan Zangana, Minister and promoter of Women rights in Kurdistan, former Head of Women Affairs in Kurdistan Parliament, shortly presented the current situation in Kurdistan. 

“Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has promoted, from the start, women rights, and Human Rights in general. This resulted in a series of legislative acts in favour of women. However, Kurds are living in very transitional period: there is struggle between two parties, a conservative and a progressive one, and it is not clear which one will prevail”, said Mrs Zangana.

Minister Zangana explained the role of the High Council for Women Affairs, acting in an Inter-ministerial level and trying to coordinate different Ministries. The Kurdish Minister expressed her hope for strengthen cooperation with EU, especially with an eventual future EU representation office in Erbil. She expressed the wish to “work together with the EU on projects of common interest, especially now when KRG adopted a 4 year national strategy for combating violence against women”.

Mrs Chenar Saed, Former KRG Minister, Academic and Promoter of Women Right showed in her presentation the current progress of women` participation in politics in Kurdistan. According the presented data, “the rate of women in top positions in political parties increased until 1996, then it decreased, but after 2009 it increased again”. “While the women lobby hopes to obtain between 3 and 5 woman Ministers in the government, in Parliament the woman quota increased from 25% to 30%”, said Mrs Saed.

40 % of the public sector employees are women against 60 % men. There are only 3,8% woman judges in whole Iraq, while in Kurdistan they are 5,67%, was also shown in the presentation.

Mrs Florin Seudin, Director General of the KRG High Council of Women Affairs, explained the functioning of the institution leaded by her. The High Council is active throughout 6 ministries, seven activists from the civil society and one Director General who design and formulate policies aiming at equality. “Since 2007 the Ministry of Interior has a Directorate General for women, whose task is to deal with investigations concerning violence against women”, said Mrs Seudin.

She pointed out that in the last three years the number of complaints increased, which means that there is more awareness about laws and about the possibility to make complaints.

The policy of active promotion of women right in Kurdistan Region strongly differs from the general situation in Iraq.

Mrs Haifa Zangana, expert on the situation of women in Iraq, emphasized the suffering of women and “the extreme regression” of women’s rights: “Indeed women had been to the point of almost gender equality, now they are looking after basic survival”.

Mrs Zangana pointed out that there are “1 million widows, 5 million orphans” and all of them are easy target for different kind of abuses – “propaganda of “muta`a” (limited duration marriages), polygamy, trafficking in persons, begging, prostitution or selling organs to Gulf Area and to Europe”.

“Concerning education: 92% of Iraqi children suffer from learning impediments (no toilets in schools, etc.).  Kidnapping, killing of academics, scientists, many of them women, are at the order of the day”, added Mrs Zangana and regretted that “out of 44 Ministers only 1 is a woman, she has no portfolio. And she does not recognise equality between genders”.

Mrs Haifa Zangana called Europe to appoint a Special Rapporteur on women rights in Iraq and to prevent any “supplies of arms to a regime using it against its people”.  – http://www.araratnews.com/nuce.php?aid=698