Support for the notion of female leadership
Al-Kaʹabi explains that the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which was adopted on 31 October 2000 recognised the importance of the contribution of women to peace and security and of their full participation in all spheres of life, including political, social and legal. The most important of these is their contribution to the decision-making process – Resolution 1325 stipulates that women should hold at least 25% of party leadership positions.
Furthermore Al-Kaʹabi points out that the quota system which was laid down in paragraph 4 of Article 49 in the current Constitution of Iraq 2005 set a fixed percentage for female representation in the Council of no less than 25% ("election law aims to ensure that women make up not less than a quarter of all members of parliament"). The quota is therefore an important factor in achieving womenʹs involvement in the political process.
The main reasons for the poor level of participation and under-performance of women in politics can be summarised as follows:
– the lack of influential female figures in politics and the inexperience of many women in politics generally;
– the specific control exerted over women by party leaderships and political factions;
– the constant questioning of womenʹs abilities;
– the lack of provision and support for the development and training of women;
– most political parties and factions deliberately exclude women from their own decision making processes;
– the stereotyping of women in the media, reducing their role predominantly to issues relating to women, the family and children.
Yet there are also many other challenges which continue to hamper women from advancing in politics, which include:
– disparaging and defamatory attacks on social media websites;
– temporary deteriorations in the security situation;
– the customs, traditions and patriarchal character of society, which is used to having men in decision-making roles;
– societyʹs lack of confidence in the ability of women to work in the political arena;
– the negative rivalry between women and the lack of self-confidence of some;
– lack of money and resources of most women to form parties and to pay for election campaigns;
– the impact on much of society of extremist religious rhetoric rejecting the notion of women in politics.
So what are the solutions?
Among the more obvious solutions to increase womenʹs involvement in politics and to get them appointed to executive roles are:
– the need to include clauses within the law governing political parties to ensure the quota of women in leadership roles is not less than a minimum of 25%, and to prepare the groundwork to increase this proportion still further;
– parties should be compelled, in their political programmes and management systems, to develop and empower their women cadres;
– the need to emphasise the involvement of women in politics and to give them positions in the party leadership appropriate to their seniority and competence;
– co-ordination with influential womenʹs organisations in order to mount effective advocacy campaigns;
– womenʹs civil society organisations should undertake training and development programmes for women working in politics. They should also raise awareness of the importance of women playing a role in politics, with a focus on building active and effective womenʹs groups in order to get more qualified women elected in the polls;
– improve the portrayal of women in the media;
– the passing of balanced legislation to prevent cyber crime;
– and finally, the provision of a safe and secure environment for women working in the political arena.
© Goethe-Institut | Perspectives 2019
Translated from the Arabic by Chris Somes-Charlton
Manar Alzubaidi is editor-in-chief of Al-Manar News, editor of the International Journalists’ Network, correspondent with Berlin-based NIQASH, director of Huna al-Diwaniyyah Broadcasting, president of the Association of Women Journalists at the Iraq Journalists Syndicate, Diwaniyah branch, member of the INSM network, representative of the Press Freedom Advocacy Association Iraq and correspondent with Al Jazeera Online.