With fears that women’s rights are being eroded in Iraq, prospective female lawmakers are determined to push women’s issues to the fore of campaigning for this month’s elections. Despite a constitutional requirement that a quarter of all MPs be women, Iraq lags on key indicators such as female employment and literacy, and there is a bill before parliament that opponents say dramatically curtails women’s rights. Also at issue ahead of 30 April elections are high levels of violence against women, discrimination at the workplace and poor school attendance. “I did not expect that we will fight for women’s rights in this country,” said Inam Abdul Majed, a television news presenter and an election hopeful running in Baghdad. “I wanted to fight for better education, better services, better life conditions… But we are in this big trouble now, and it is a primary problem to be solved.”
Decades ago, Iraq was seen as the most progressive country in the Middle East for women but dictator Saddam Hussein rolled back many of those advances in the 1990s, and the rampant bloodshed that followed his ouster in 2003 has led to further restrictions.
Now, more than a quarter of women over the age of 12 are illiterate and only 85 girls attend secondary school for every 100 boys, according to a May 2013 UN fact sheet. Among the most troubling indicators is the fact that only 14 percent of Iraqi women are either working or actively seeking employment.
Full Article: Female candidates fight for women’s rights in Iraq campaign.