The Women's Advisory Group (WAG) on Reconciliation and Politics, which was established in October 2018 with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), was officially inaugurated on Thursday in Baghdad.
The Group is expected to lobby for the advancement of women's role in politics and making their voices heard. Women continue to be underrepresented and remain excluded from political and decision-making processes in Iraq despite their active role in society.
The Group comprises 22 members who have been selected in their individual capacities for their skills and experience. They include human rights defenders, media experts, former politicians and civil society activists, and represent a variety of interests, political backgrounds and regions.
In her remarks, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Ms. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert urged the Government to recognise that broad societal representation in shaping the future of Iraq is necessary to ensure sustainable peace, security and prosperity for all of Iraq's citizens.
"At present, the inclusion of women and their direct participation in senior decision-making positions remains very limited. We are yet to see women being elected to some of the leading positions; for example, Governors or Chairs of Provincial Councils and let's not forget a male-dominated Cabinet," stressed SRSG Hennis-Plasschaert.
She urged Iraq's senior political leadership, including the government, parliamentary committees, civil society partners and other stakeholders to join UNAMI in drawing on the expertise of the Women's Advisory Group.
She further called on men interested in becoming male champions in the fight for gender equality to work closely with UNAMI and the Women's Advisory Group to design the necessary frameworks for women's inclusion in decision-making structures.
Speaking on behalf of the Women's Advisory Group, Bushra Alubaidi, a lawyer and human rights activists, highlighted that "participation of women in reconciliation and decision-making in state institutions remains limited in Iraq, despite the fact that the country has adopted national and international frameworks empowering women and ensuring women's meaningful role in society and the state. The current Council of Ministers is constituted of men only, and it is a rare practice that governmental entities would consult women's groups on policy decisions and frameworks," said Ms. Alubaidi.
Participants included the Second Deputy Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Mr. Bashir Haddad, the Prime Minister's Advisor on Reconciliation, Mohammed Salman, the Director-General of the Women's Empowerment Directorate at the Council of Ministers, Dr. Ibtisam Aziz, the head of the Sunni Endowment, Dr. Abdulateef Al-Humeim, Parliamentarians and Members of Provincial Councils, government officials, members of the Judiciary, members of the diplomatic community, as well as civil society activists and academics.