UN Women Iraq, President’s office will partner to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment

Date: Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Iraqi President Barham Salih met UN officials to discuss cooperation to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment. Photo: courtesy of Office of the President of the Republic of Iraq.

BAGHDAD – UN Women and the Office of the President of the Republic of Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) providing a framework of cooperation between the two parties in areas of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The MoU, cosigned by UN Women Representative Dina Zorba and Iraqi President Advisor for Gender and Civil Society Khanim Latif, provides for cooperation in technical fields, research and advocacy.

The two partners will cooperate in promoting enabling frameworks for the realization of women’s rights as well as government-wide mainstreaming of gender equality and women’s empowerment. The MoU will also promote sustainable institutional capacities to ensure Iraq’s alignment with its international human rights commitments.

In particular, the memo seeks to ensure a gender-based response to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with a focus on building the capacity of women representatives to carry out their role in the political and decision-making spheres. Furthermore, it provides for harmonizing policy approaches in the areas of national reconciliation, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction.

The MoU also aims to strengthen the database for women’s fundamental human rights in order to inform and guide evidence-based advocacy. The effort includes enhancing the process of regularly producing gender statistics and cooperation in all stages of research, in addition to improving access to research findings and data by users, including women.

UN Women and the Office of the President will also collaborate in strengthening the momentum for the advancement of women’s agenda in Iraq through joint advocacy and outreach efforts.

The two sides will work on informing and influencing the national discourse on the elimination of legislative, social and economic barriers for women’s realization and recognition of their rights, including in the areas of women’s economic empowerment, participation in the decision-making process, ending gender-based violence and promoting women’s active participation in the political sphere.

In addition, the two parties will be advocating for the establishment of a women’s machinery capable of coordinating women’s issues with the aim of ensuring their political, social, cultural and economic empowerment towards the achievement of equality between men and women.

Following the signing ceremony, Iraqi President Barham Salih met Marta Ruedas, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Iraq and Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and UN Women Representative Dina Zorba.

At the meeting, Dr. Salih voiced support for women’s causes, expressing the importance of pushing for the empowerment of women at the political, social and economic levels. The Iraqi President said he will put his full weight behind efforts to have better representation of women in government posts, noting that the government can start the process by appointing women at the level of director-general, as a step to appointing women to ministerial posts.

Ms. Ruedas voiced the UN’s support for efforts to integrate women into the political process as well as other spheres of life, underlining that “strong political interventions” are required at the highest political levels to ensure that first steps are taken to ensure women’s representation in the political process.

Ms. Zorba called for a special quota for women in the executive authority as is done in the legislative authority. Under Iraq’s constitution, 25 percent of Parliament’s seats are allocated for women.

The UN Women Representative in Iraq also emphasized that more efforts need to be exerted to empower women economically by supporting various initiatives facilitating women entrepreneurship and offering grants and other types of support.

Iraqi President Advisor for Gender and Civil Society Khanim Latif voiced satisfaction over the signing of the agreement between the President’s Office and UN Women, underlining the importance of the step in paving the way for more vital cooperation in various areas. Highlighting the president’s support for women causes, Latif said economic empowerment is very important for the country and called for a focus on long-term empowerment initiatives rather than focus on short-term projects.