Women's Voice Now Heard in New Iraq

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr. SHIFA HADI HUSSEIN

(Dr. Shifa Hadi Hussein is an Arab Muslim from Mosul who does not think of herself as Sunni or Shia. She works as Professor of English at Mosul University and is also a member of the Nineveh Council, Manager of the Nineveh Labor Association and Manager of the Ethics and Anti-corruption office for Nineveh. Dr. Hussein is one of the Iraqi women in the Iraqi delegation of women attending the UN Commission on the Status of Womens conference in New York, March 1-12th.)

ONE year after the invasion of Iraq, life in my city of Mosul has really changed some things for the better and some for the worse.

A year ago, democracy did not exist and it was the central authorities who made the decisions, for example on what they had to eat (through the food basket programme), and who would have a job after completing their academic studies, and what that job would be. Everything was decided for everybody whether they liked it or not that was the way things were.

Women had nothing to do with the leadership of the city and no decision-making role to play. They were entirely excluded from the decision-making process and passively endorsed government statements and the Baath point of view.

Now democracy is tangible in every aspect of daily life in decision-making, in transparency and accountability of local leadership and in local elections.

In short, we have the opportunity to control our lives in a way that was unthinkable a year ago. Women have the right to speak now, to reject laws when they feel they are not appropriate and to demand a percentage of leadership positions.

We are now leaders: Women are represented on Mosul city council, they work as police officers, as translators and in the media. This change in the status of women is exemplified by my participation in an all-women Iraqi delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women conference in New York this month. …