Ladies’ First: Iraq’s First Women-Only Council Formed in Kurdish Village
A small village in Dohuk province has decided to create a women’s council. The council members say it’s a first for Iraq and the villagers in Barchi hope it could become an example that will support women’s rights right around the country.
However, as the feminist council’s critics say, the council will face a lot of challenges, and not least from sticklers for tradition.
In the 420-family village of Barchi, around 75 kilometres away from the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk, the locals have decided to form a “women’s council”.
In early May, ten women from the village were chosen by the rest of the women in the village, when they all met in the village hall. Following a secret ballot by the ten council members, a chairperson and two deputies were also chosen. The women’s council was officially created on May 3, 2014.
“We are going to help local women get the many services they need,” explains Salwan Mohammed, who at 68 is the eldest member of the council. “And we will make sure their voices are heard. This is possible because of the many people who support the council,” she said.
The mayor of the village himself played a role in the forming of the women’s council. “There are so many problems that the men of this village cannot deal with alone,” the mayor, Lazkin Mohammed, explained. “That was the main reason behind the formation of the council.”
The women on the council are well aware of potential problems they might face. “Lack of funding might stop us from organizing much,” admitted the chairwoman of the council, Hiyam Ahmad. “And a lot of our members are housewives so they are busy and they can’t help organize council activities.”