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Women and Peace in Iraq: opportunities, challenges, and prospects for a better future (EN+AR)

We are proud to present this long-awaited study, the result of one year of extensive research and joint efforts between Dr. Zeynep Kaya and Dr. Ilham Makki, with support from a local team of researchers. The study was conducted within the framework of  the “Women Talking Peace” project,  funded by The German Corporation for International Cooperation (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit – GIZ) on behalf of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (Das Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung – BMZ) and implemented by elbarlament.

This groundbreaking study puts the focus on the voices of women in Iraq; it looks at what they think about the peacebuilding processes happening in their country and why they are not part of it. This valuable women’s perspective is usually neglected in favor of a more top-down approach looking only at the political processes, negotiations etc.

Dr. Zeynep Kaya and Dr. Ilham Makki have painstakingly drawn on their extensive knowledge and expertise in the field to provide a thorough analysis of women’s participation in peacebuilding processes in Iraq, highlighting opportunities, challenges and recommendations to different stakeholders for a better future of Iraq. The study is contributing not only to the existing literature on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in Iraq, but also articulating guidelines for the different interventions needed to enhance women’s engagement and effective participation in formal and informal peacebuilding processes.

Women and girls have suffered from the long-term conflicts in Iraq, with detrimental impacts on their social, economic and political conditions. Important strides, including drafting an Iraqi National Action Plan (INAP) for the monitoring and implementation of United Nations Security Resolution 1325 of 2000, have been made, which acknowledge that women must participate on an equal footing with men in peacebuilding processes, and that gender equality is crucial in establishing sustainable peace and building democratic functioning Iraqi state organs. However, women’s effective participation in formal and informal peace processes in Iraq still lags behind.

On the other hand, Iraqi women and girls continue to defy the challenges to participation in peacebuilding processes. As a pillar of the protest movement, young women have established/founded the “Their Homeland” movement, through which they seek to affect fundamental change in the Iraqi system. They also continue to play a role that is integral to the quest for change and gendering peace and justice processes. That too comes at a cost, as women’s presence in Iraqi public life puts them at a risk of harassment and assassination in some cases, among others. But as feminists scholars argued that “the fate
of women is indicative of the fate of societies” (Nadje Al-Ali and Nicola Pratt 2009), sustainable peace and justice in Iraq can only be achieved when Iraqi women’s opinions and efforts are recognised on local, national and international levels.

We hope the study informs and inspires all those writing and working in the field, with the aim of supporting Iraqi women and girls to have power and peace. We would like to thank Dr. Zeynep Kaya and Dr. Ilham Makki for this excellent study and, of course, all the women who were interviewed and who contributed important information to the success of this study.

Download the study in English here and in Arabic here..

Study authors Zeynep N. Kaya and Ilham Makki had given an interview explaining the reasoning and research method at the beginning of the year. Watch it in this video.