Iraqi Women Face Workplace Discrimination

By Miriam Ali for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Women in Iraq have made huge leaps in terms of obtaining the right to work and participate in the economy. Nevertheless, they are still subject to sexual and social discrimination, not to mention their inability to get suitable job opportunities amid declining economic growth and the deteriorating security situation.

According to the indices of the latest report issued by the Central Bureau of Statistics in the Iraqi Ministry of Planning in August 2012, the percentage of women working in a sector other than agricultural in Iraq in 2011 increased to 14.7%, compared with 12.1% in 2008. Erbil comes in first place, while Baghdad witnessed an increase from 13.4% to 18.9%.

The report indicated that there is a high percentage of women who are educated and competent, but who have not entered the labor market. Israa Ibrahim, who graduated from university in 2006 with a degree in chemistry, searched for work for years. Ibrahim told Al-Monitor, “Suffering is the only common ground between Iraqi men and women. The transition from studying to working is a problem for both genders. I searched for a job for three years, but in vain. Finally, a political figure pulled some strings to get me into my current job.”

Israa mentioned that her uncle, who holds a master's degree in international law, paid $5,000 to a member of a political party to get a job teaching at a university in Baghdad.

Another report about the economic empowerment of women in Iraq described the challenges and opportunities involving the integration of women in the Iraqi economy. The study was based on research conducted in 2011 by the United Nations Development Program in Iraq, in cooperation with the independent non-profit Iraqi Al-Amal Association.

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