Iraqi Women Face Workplace Discrimination

Janan Mubarak, head of the Iraqi Center for Women’s Rehabilitation and Employment (ICWRE), a non-governmental, non-political and non-profit organization, told Al-Monitor, “One of the biggest challenges facing Iraqi women at work is the spread of favoritism, especially in advanced administrative positions, because nominations to these posts are made by political parties.”

“Although articles 22 and 25 of the Iraqi Constitution of 2005 provided for equal rights and employment opportunities regardless of gender, there is no supportive legislation except for the quota system, which is only implemented in parliament and does not allow women to hold decision-making positions, which are controlled by political parties. Our center seeks to reach legislation regarding quotas for women in governmental positions” Mubarak added.

There are nearly 1.5 million widows in Iraq, only 8% of whom receive social security payments, amounting to approximately $80 a month, according to a report published by Oxfam (an international confederation of 17 organizations working to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice) on Iraqi widows on the occasion of the International Widows’ Day that that took place on June 23, 2013.

Moreover, among other prevalent social phenomena in Iraq, parents push their daughters to get married instead of working. In fact, Iraq ranked first among the countries with high rates of child marriage, according to the Minister of Planning and Development Cooperation, Ali Shukir. He delivered a speech during the ceremony held on Word Population Day in Baghdad on July 11, 2013. “Iraq ranks first among the countries with high rates of child marriage, with a rate of 11%,” he said.

The report on the economic empowerment of women indicated that parents try to alleviate the economic burden on poverty-stricken families  by marrying their daughters off early.

Noha Mohammed works at a public sector company in Baghdad. She told Al-Monitor, “There is a bright side to this distinction between men and woman. For instance, I am not berated in public if I have done something wrong, unlike my male colleagues. I can also easily have a day off.”

However, she complains about the dire security situation, which restricts her movement for fear of abduction and the harassment she faces in public transport.

Miriam Ali is a journalist who has worked with a number of Iraqi media outlets. She is an activist in the field of women's rights and has participated in a number of courses and workshops for promoting civil action.

(Picture: Women attending SBDC Womens Empowerment Organization (WEO), Erbil)

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