Saturday, 04 February 2012, 08:44 GMT
Kurdish women seek more participation in government

Activist Taman Shakir speaks at a demonstration in Erbil./ GLOBE PHOTO/ Safin Hamed

The Kurdish Globe

NGOs want 25% of cabinet to be women

A group of women's organizations in Kurdistan Region have submitted a proposal for Kurdistan's next Prime Minister to reevaluate the role of women in governmental institutions and take their presence into consideration. They asked government officials to provide them with access to high positions in the next cabinet.

"We are a group of organizations standing for women's rights in the Region, and we have prepared a memorandum which is set to be delivered to the KDP Vice President Nechirvan Barzani, who was appointed to head the next government cabinet, to reevaluate women's participation in governmental offices," Viyan Sleman, Manager of the Astera organization, told The Kurdish Globe.

"We have emphasized that women should be given the chance to form 25% of the new government cabinet," added Sleman, explaining the context of the memorandum.

Some activists believe women have not been given the necessary chance to emerge in the governmental and political fields, due to several obstacles.

"There should be more confidence in women. The major problem is that we are not yet seen as qualified to fill top positions," Runak Faraj, a member of Kurdistan Women's Council, told The Globe.

The common understanding by women's activists as to why women fail to emerge is the distrust of men, noted Raz Nwazroz, Manager of Aweza Center for Promoting Women's Dreams. "The Kurdish community and politicians are not yet ready to accept the idea that women could run crucial positions," said Nwazroz.

She remarked: "The time has come for Kurdish political parties to have a little trust in women and give them a space so they play a positive role in the government, and feel that they really are half of the community."

In the previous cabinet, only one ministry post went to a woman, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, filled by Asos Najib. While the new cabinet is forming, there is a campaign by nongovernmental organizations asking that Najib stay in office for another term due to her success.

Contrary to the previous government, following the last election in 2009, women gained a significant opportunity in parliamentary affairs by taking 30% of Kurdistan Parliament seats, which is 41 seats out of 111.

Shilan Jabar, a Kurdish activist, is still not satisfied with women's participation rate. "There has been great progress when it comes to the role of women in lawmaking positions; however the rate is not up to our expectations, women should have been given more opportunities," she told The Globe.

Although many activists emphasize the necessity of women's participation, Head of the Kurdistan Women's Union Institute for Social Issues Nahida Ahmed Qadir says women should not be given any post just because they are women. "Choosing a woman to hold a post just because she is a woman is not logical; those who run for office must be up to the task and have previous administrative experience."