Iraq’s New Women’s Affairs Minister: ‘Women Should Have Freedom To Wear What They Want’
Bayan Nouri has a tough job over the next four years – the new Minister for Women’s Affairs in Iraq must try to improve the economic lot of Iraq’s women, prevent systemic domestic violence against females and work on problems like female genital mutilation and underage marriage as well as somehow help the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women affected by the current security crisis. One thing she won’t be doing though is banning polygamy.
Iraqi Kurdish politician Bayan Nouri is the new Minister for Women’s Affairs in the government headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
She talked to NIQASH about whether her Ministry can do anything to help women affected by the extremist takeover of some parts of the country, including what it can do for the women that the extremist group known as the Islamic State, had abducted.
Nouri also explained her thoughts on Iraq’s controversial personal status law and her positions on female genital mutilation, women being forced to wear the full veil, or niqab, and the important difference between being married by a cleric and being married in a civil ceremony. She also spoke about why it would be a bad idea to ban polygamy – where a man has several wives – altogether in Iraq.
NIQASH: Most international studies are critical of the status of Iraqi women. What plans does your Ministry have to improve this situation?
Bayan Nouri: We have a strategy with six different platforms and these are legal, educational, health-related, professional and leadership-related as well as assisting institutions that work on women’s issues.
There is no doubt that the situation for women has worsened over the past four years and it certainly cannot be repaired in four years. However, we will continue to try, in all areas, to improve the situation by paying more attention to family protection units, assisting them to reduce domestic violence. We also want to improve the economic status of Iraqi women by granting small loans in coordination with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.