Copyright Julie Biro and Lorenz Findeisen

Women can and must play a creative and equal role in shaping the future of the Iraqi state. Their involvement in peacebuilding processes not only corresponds with the Iraqi government’s existing international obligations, it also offers concrete opportunities to pursue peacebuilding and state building aside from the official peace initiatives that are mostly dominated by men. 

Throughout 2020/21 the project ‘’Women talking peace’’ aims to involve women in the building of an effective peace order and functioning state, democratic and social structures in Iraq. To contribute to this, the project consists of two components: a capacity building component and a research component with regard to women and peace building in Iraq. 

Within the first component, elbarlament will implement capacity building programmes that aim to empower women from politics and civil society to effectively participate in the areas of conflict resolution, reconciliation work and decision making. In a modular leadership training programme, women will be trained to take on management tasks at all government and social levels as well as in organizations.  In another creative writing ToT-programme ‘’Women writing for Peace’’ we aim to equip young women from Iraq, who previously attended creative writing workshops with elbarlament, with the skills to become multipliers for peace, to strengthen their self-confidence and support civil society with their own creative writing workshops for peace and reconciliation in Iraq. Within this first component, elbarlament also promotes a gender-sensitive understanding of the police, judiciary and armed forces through several capacity trainings and fosters a dialogue between women from politics and civil society as well as religious and tribal leaders on the subject of peacebuilding and reconciliation. In the course of 2020, elbarlament will also establish an interactive dialogue and knowledge platform through which stakeholders and participants can exchange their experiences and knowledge. 

The other main component of the project consists of several research projects.  A first project will be a stakeholders mapping, which aims at identifying key actors in the field of women empowerment and peacebuilding on the local, provincial and national level. Through the stakeholders mapping we will be able to engage key officials, experts and practitioners and establish links for possible participation in the planned project activities such as trainings for security personnel and government officials. Since the inclusion of women in peacebuilding processes in Iraq is still an understudied topic, an additional study will tackle the challenges to women´s meaningful participation in peace processes in Iraq and highlight the opportunities, best practices, and possible areas of intervention. The study will pay particular attention to how women can influence peacebuilding and reconciliation.

Furthermore, elbarlament will collaborate with experienced researchers to conduct four  thematic research papers which will be published on the dialogue platform and serve to complement existing knowledge gaps. The research papers will focus on 1) the legislative framework of women’s  participation in societal and peacebuilding processes in Iraq, 2) best practices of peacebuilding in Iraq that highlight the engagement of women on the local level whether through formal or informal participation in peace processes in their communities, 3) the engagement of men and boys in peace building processes and 4) women’s social and economic empowerment as a vehicle to enhance their ability to participate in the peace process. 

The programme is aimed at women who are active in civil society and women from politics, for example parliamentarians and female government members from central Iraq, the provinces and the autonomous region of Kurdistan. The project brings together women from different ethnic and religious groups: Kurdish women, women from the Shiite south and from Sunni regions, and women from religious and ethnic minorities. In addition, the project addresses decision-makers and state representatives at a decentralized level in all provinces of Iraq and Kurdistan. In the course of training workshops, tribal and religious leaders as well as – female and male – police officers, prosecutors, judges and members of the armed forces will be trained and sensitized in the topics of conflict transformation, dialogue and gender.

The main guidelines of the project are the UN Convention on the Rights of Women (CEDAW) and the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on the Participation of Women in Peace Processes, which has been in existence for 20 years in 2020, its 10 subsequent resolutions, and the National Action Plan (NAP) from 2014-2018 for Iraq, which aims at gender mainstreaming in all political fields and processes of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace building in Iraq. The anniversary year and the associated international attention should be used to implement UNSCR 1325, a purpose that elbarlament will serve by organizing a conference at the end of 2020.

Copyright Julie Biro and Lonrenz Findeisen