Signs of Progress for Women in Kurdistan

By Chris Bowers, British Consul General in Erbil. This article was originally published by Rudaw, and is re-published with permission by Iraq Business News.

Can any government reach its full potential without using its entire people? Of course not. That is why the UK worldwide considers the role of women to be so important. A society that holds back women, holds back half of its economic, social and cultural potential. That has got to be wrong. Imagine if a government told every other man that there was no need for them to be educated beyond a certain level, they were generally inferior and should content themselves with a lesser place in society. There would be outrage! So, why should any government or society give that message to the half of the population that happens to be female?

Governments that invest in the education of young girls see a big impact. As Lynne Featherstone, the UK Governments Minister responsible for promoting female rights says, “The benefits of investing in girls and women are transformational – for their own lives and for their families, communities, societies and economies. Empowering girls and women has multiplier effects for economic growth and security”.

As International Women’s Day comes round again, here in the Kurdistan Region, the government understands that. One third of the members of parliament have to be women and the parliament has recently passed some brave and ground-breaking laws to eliminate domestic violence and to make forced marriage, so-called honour crimes and female genital mutilation punishable by prison. Civil society groups are active on these issues in Kurdistan Region, too and that is good to see.

All this puts the KRG in the front rank of administrations in the wider region.

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