When the Iraqi parliament elected a new oversight commission for elections last month, for the first time ever there was no woman on it. In 2005, when the commission was first formed there were two.
At one stage the staffs of the ministries of finance, education and health were around half female. But their numbers have dropped a lot over the past few years. Three months ago parliament refused to vote on measures impacting the Federal Public Service Council, which regulates the affairs of the federal public service, including appointment and promotion, because of the fact that the president and deputy are independent women, according to Edwar. Male MPs have also refused to vote on a bill on domestic violence for years, she added.
All of this should be a wakeup call, Edwar argues, when it comes to the role of Iraqi women in their own society. “Men occupy all the high-ranking positions and they reject the laws that might support women,” Edwar notes. “If there were no quotas in place that require that females make up 25 percent of parliament and provincial councils, things would be even worse.”