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Edition One

WEO introduction:
Women empowerment organization is a non-governmental, voluntary and independent organization, established in June 2004 and since that time WEO is accomplishing projects in different working sectors in Iraq.More

 

Edition Two
  • Woman Empowerment Organization in February finalized many projects and has taken steps for starting other projects to be accomplished in the next few months. The Organization examines the impacts of these projects, and studies the goals for others. These projects are.More
Edition Three

Woman Empowerment Organization has been finalized many projects and trainings; it has taken steps for starting other projects to be accomplished in the next few months. The Organization examines the impacts and results of these projects, and studies the goals for others in Human rights sector to business trainings.More

EUJUST LEX Open Day – celebration of the 10th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325

WEO had the pleasure to participate as a keynote speaker at the Eujust Lex conference that took place on the 10th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325, at Khanzad Hotel in Erbil.

This European initiative calls for the protection of the women’s rights in times of war and conflict. Its objective is to increase the role of women in the peace building process and the guarantee their political participation. The conference was held with the presence of a considerable number of members of the Parliament, the Council of judges, representatives of governmental institutions, religious leaders, NGOs and the media.

The objective of the conference was to present Eujust Lex’s achievements on the legislative and political level, as well as the existing barriers and procedures to the resolution’s application.

The role of NGOs regarding this issue was presented by Women Empowerment Director Suzan Aref, who gave a speech on the women’s situation in Iraq as well as the next steps that have to be followed in order to strengthen the women’s rights according to resolution 1325.

Finally, the director of Women’s  radio Al Mahaba presented the media’s role in communicating on the women’s situation and increasing the general awareness.


The role of civil society in promoting women's rights

The tenth anniversary of UN Resolution 1325

It's a great opportunity to come together today to celebrate, with the international community, the tenth anniversary of the adoption of Security Council resolution 1325, which is an important international instrument to promote women's rights during and after armed conflicts.
In accordance with the international principles established in international declarations and covenants half a century ago, woman has right as a human being to be free from torture or cruel treatment or punishment or inhuman behavior and also woman has right to liberty and security of person. Thus, violence against women in all its forms and manifestations constitute unequal power relations between men and women throughout history and this has led to domination of men over women and discrimination against them.
Here we must point out that the resolution (1325) has been mentioned in the resolution of the Security Council on Iraq, No. (1483) in 22nd of May 2003, and this is in order to ensure equal rights and justice for all Iraqi citizens without discrimination. This was a motivation for us as civil society organizations, particularly women's organizations, to fight a campaign to demand the presence of women in decision-making positions. We are proud that we were able to install a constitutional quota of at least 30 percent in the number of parliamentary seats in the Kurdistan Region and the percentage of not less than 25 percent in the Iraqi Council of Representatives.
The women's movement played an influential role in the recruitment of a wide range of ways in which women were exposed to violence and to draw attention of people nationally and globally to such ways. However, any enumeration of the forms of violence at any time can not be exhaustive, because violence against women is constantly changing and reflected in the social, economic and political dynamics. The new technologies like the Internet, or new conditions of free trade zones, can lead to new forms of violence against women. And States must be prepared to address new forms of violence as they arise and to identify them.
We, as non-governmental organizations, have imposed on ourselves multiple commitments regarding the dissemination and protection of human rights, taking into account that Iraq has ratified two international conventions on human, political, civil, social, economic and cultural rights, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international covenants of human rights.
We seek to achieve the strategic dimension for the advancement of human rights as not only an issue of mechanisms and laws, but is also the issue of education and consolidating the culture to be reflected in the behaviors, practices and vision. Plus, human rights should be embedded in the structure of different cultures in the community to become an integral part.
However the relative improvement of the status of women, especially in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in view of the development in the region and the stable security situation, but still women are excluded from effective participation in the resolution and peaceful negotiations and the role of women in negotiations almost non-existent. The role of women is limited to many leadership positions in the formal institutions. The actual impact on the decisions is often limited, and the loyalties remain connected with men, clans, sects and religious groups, or political party, and women will be suppressed to contribute to peace and security in families, communities and at national levels. There is no clear understanding of the importance of participation of women in law-making and political decision-making.  
In addition to the presence of large numbers of widows and orphans and those with special needs, women are mostly suffering from poverty, misery, unemployment and the absence of social security and health. There are also serious violations of women conditions in prisons and detention camps and the suffering of displacement, and homelessness with the absence of basic services of housing, electricity, education and health care
Women face enormous social pressures which prevent them from reporting such crimes, and the state failed to promote, protect and support women who wish to report them. This failure manifests itself in gaps in the Penal Code and Labour Code; and the lack of specialized centers for women; and police bias against women, as well as practices of lax sentencing.
We have tried as civil society organizations and played an important role in addressing violence against women, and even influenced on how to address the issue of violence against women in the discourse more generally. And still, we are working with various government authorities to find the appropriate mechanism to disseminate and protect women's rights, based on transparency, access to information, and partnership in policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. It is an honor and responsibility to protect the victims and their rights as citizen rights are guaranteed by law and international conventions, in particular the resolution 1325 and CEDAW which is approved by Iraq since 1986.
With that in mind mentioned above, we appeal to the international community, United Nations and its specialized agencies and international organizations, to support the following demands for us: -

  1. To include a text in the forthcoming amendment of the Constitution referring to the recognition of international conventions on Human Rights as a source of national legislations

  2. Strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations and seeking partnerships to combat violence against women and urging the formal institutions and decision makers to support the role of NGOs in the area of violence against women

  3. Working on the establishment of a governmental and civil body responsible for the registration of all violence forms against women, investigating them and sending them to court, and also imposing disciplinary measures or proceedings against police and other officials who fail to register criminal complaints from women victims of domestic violence

  4. Activation of the Supreme Council for Women in Kurdistan

  5. Putting the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the interpretation of domestic legislation relevant in the light of these international instruments in the Programs of the Institute of Judicial and Legal Studies, and the institutes of the police and other training institutions

  6. Strengthening the principle of citizenship and equality before the law for all citizens without discrimination, via pruning through the preamble of the Constitution and its articles of all the terms of sectarianism, including Article 41 which is related to issues of personal status, in order to avoid sectarian strife and terrorism.

  7. Create a healthy environment to enable women to achieve gender equality, and giving them equal opportunities in all areas, and expand their participation in decision-making positions, and to ensure the proportion of %25 in the Executive authority and the judiciary provided that it is not limited to the service ministries

  8. Building the system of legal protection and the opening of safe havens and secure the health and social care necessary for the vulnerable groups including women survivors of violence, working to enact a law to criminalize violence against women and women and children trafficking, in conjunction with strengthening the rule of law, equality and justice in Iraq

  9. Giving priority in providing financial grants to civil society organizations and women's organizations in implementation of Security Council resolution No. 1325, in order that NGOs can finance their activities and campaigns in lobbying and advocacy on the issue of violence against women.

  10. Assisting the exchange of information and experiences and networking among women's organizations inside Iraq with the women abroad  on armed conflicts in transitional situations, in order to launch advocacy campaigns regarding the effects of armed conflict on women's lives.

In conclusion, we hope that our presence in partnership with the governmental institutions, the European Union, United Nations and its specialized agencies and international organizations, brings about the advancement of women in conjunction with building a state of law and justice. The development of effective women's participation completes national sovereignty and the consolidation of stability, security, peace and democracy in Iraq.
Suzan Aref
WEO Director
9-11-2010