Saturday, October 28, 2023

Iraq’s Gender Equality Regression: Where are the Women MPs?


Title: The Iraqi Parliament’s Female Representation: A Struggle for Women’s Rights


Since 2003, the Iraqi parliament has witnessed a significant increase in the number of women MPs, marking a positive step towards gender equality and women’s empowerment. However, despite this progress, the anticipated impact on women’s rights has been disappointingly limited. This article explores the challenges faced by women in Iraq and highlights the need for further action to ensure meaningful change.

1. Historical Context:

The post-2003 era brought hope for women’s rights in Iraq, with the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the subsequent establishment of a democratic system. The new constitution guaranteed gender equality and reserved a quarter of parliamentary seats for women. This provision aimed to address historical gender disparities and promote women’s active participation in decision-making processes.

2. Increased Female Representation:

The Iraqi parliament currently boasts the highest number of women MPs since 2003, reflecting progress in political inclusivity. This increased representation is a testament to the determination and resilience of Iraqi women, who have overcome numerous obstacles to participate in politics. However, mere representation does not guarantee substantial improvements in women’s rights.

3. Cultural and Social Barriers:

Despite legal provisions, deeply ingrained cultural and social norms continue to hinder progress towards gender equality in Iraq. Traditional gender roles and patriarchal attitudes prevail, limiting women’s agency and perpetuating discriminatory practices. These deeply rooted beliefs often undermine the influence and effectiveness of female MPs, impeding their ability to drive meaningful change.

4. Limited Political Power:

While women hold parliamentary seats, their influence within decision-making processes remains limited. Male-dominated political parties often marginalize female MPs, relegating them to secondary roles or token positions. This lack of genuine empowerment prevents women from effectively advocating for policies that address the pressing issues faced by Iraqi women, such as domestic violence, honor killings, and limited access to education and healthcare.

5. Legislative Challenges:

The Iraqi parliament’s ability to enact legislation that supports women’s rights is hindered by political polarization and competing priorities. The country faces numerous challenges, including security concerns, economic instability, and sectarian tensions. As a result, issues related to women’s rights often take a backseat, further delaying progress towards gender equality.

6. Insufficient Implementation and Enforcement:

Even when legislation supporting women’s rights is passed, its implementation and enforcement remain inadequate. Weak institutional capacity, corruption, and a lack of resources hinder the effective execution of laws aimed at protecting women’s rights. This gap between policy and practice perpetuates the cycle of gender inequality, leaving many women vulnerable to discrimination and violence.

7. The Role of Civil Society:

To overcome these challenges, the active involvement of civil society organizations is crucial. Grassroots movements, NGOs, and women’s rights advocates play a vital role in raising awareness, lobbying for change, and providing support to marginalized women. Their efforts are instrumental in pressuring the government to prioritize women’s rights and hold accountable those responsible for gender-based discrimination.


While the increased representation of women in the Iraqi parliament is undoubtedly a positive development, it is clear that much work remains to be done to achieve meaningful change in women’s rights. Overcoming cultural barriers, empowering female MPs, prioritizing women’s issues, and strengthening implementation mechanisms are essential steps towards achieving gender equality in Iraq. By addressing these challenges head-on and fostering a supportive environment for women’s rights, Iraq can pave the way for a brighter future where all citizens can thrive regardless of their gender.

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