Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Don't forget the ladies" in Iraq

by Eva Marie Wash

As the presidential inauguration draws near and with it hopes for an end to the war in Iraq, I would like to invoke the famous instruction of Abigail Adams to her husband--“Don’t forget the ladies”—in regards to America’s present and future approach to the establishment of peace.

A policy paper published by the Independent Women’s Forum, “Advancing Women’s Rights: Two Years in Iraq,” addresses the current obstacles facing women in Iraq, as well as the recent successes of a few, brave women’s organizations. With war still raging throughout the country, women are often sequestered within their homes, outside of which, they are subject to violence and also to the increasing control of sectarian and religious authorities who have usurped legal power.

The courageous leaders of NGOs such as Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq have established women’s shelters and even an Iraqi Underground Railroad, offering salvation for women oppressed by domestic abuse or at the risk of honor killings, which are far too common. The activities of these organizations and the protection of their members have not received enough support and focus during the reconstruction process so far. Future action on the side of Iraqi women should not only ensure their just treatment and well-being, but aid their engagement in the governance and affairs of the country. Their involvement is a necessary catalyst for positive and enduring change.

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