UNAMI Kirkuk marks International Women’s Day highlighting the role of women

Kirkuk, 8 March 2018 - The UNAMI Kirkuk Office marked International Women's Day, Thursday, 8 March 2018, with a gathering in the Iraqi city. In attendance were members for the Kirkuk Provincial Council, representatives of the Kirkuk Office of the Iraqi Independent Human Rights Commission, and civil society actors.

Against the theme of "Rural and urban activists transforming women's lives", Helena Habraken, head of the UNAMI Political Office in Kirkuk, highlighted the huge role played by women in rural communities in working the land and securing food and livelihood for their families, noting that the majority of the world’s agricultural labour force is female. She talked about the persisting problems women face in access to land ownership, and the need to raise their living standards and safety. She also highlighted the role of women in local politics, welcoming the fact that many female candidates from Kirkuk are participating in the upcoming national elections.

Safir Syed of the Human Rights Office, described that whatever civic actors were engaged in -- whether it was addressing poverty-related issues, discrimination, gender-based violence, or greater participation in decision-making processes -- their work was amongst the most courageous and inspiring. He stated that advocating for positive social change necessarily would invite resistance, especially of long-held beliefs, attitudes and behaviours. However, what was unacceptable was when our ability to speak or work freely and independently was interfered with. Women civil society actors experience the usual obstacles and more. Because they are women, or because of the issues they are advocating, women civic actors are sometimes seen as challenging traditional gender roles, and are also subject to hostility and stigmatization.

Mr. Syed highlighted that durable and sustainable change takes a long time to achieve, and we should capitalise on the success and strategies of those who have struggled with similar issues around the world. "Though women activists in Kirkuk or Iraq may be labeled as 'indignant' or 'unreasonable', their perseverance is their power, and they are in fact the ones working to create new and positive realities for all of us."

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  • Agency: UNAMI

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