Over the last few years, Iraq has gone through extraordinary changes, and Iraqis faced a unique set of difficult conditions exacerbated by conflict and terrorism.
Iraqi women in particular have had to bear a heavy burden, including internal displacement, economic hardship, violence and discrimination.
In response to the difficult and unique situation faced by Iraqi women, the Iraqi government in partnership with civil society, women groups and international organisations have developed a set of policies to address gender inequality, and to ensure women’s unhindered and equal participation in building the peaceful and prosperous Iraq that we all aspire to.
One of the most significant measures to empower women is the Iraqi National Action Plan to for women and girls (INAP), which was adopted to implement the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
The launch of the INAP in February 2014 was a milestone for Iraq, making the country the first in the Middle East and North Africa region to adopt such a measure.
Resolution 1325 aims to achieve equal participation of women, and to promote gender equality in peace and security decision-making processes.
Iraq’s National Action Plan, which runs through to the end of 2018, sets out several goals to strengthen legal protection for women, identifies actions for increasing women’s participation at all levels in the political process and earmarks several pieces of legislation deemed to violate women’s rights with a view to either amending or repealing them.
And although the current National Action Plan does not specifically address some key areas such as women’s participation in conflict resolution and reconciliation, it remains a significant and timely policy reflecting the determination of the Iraqi government to address gender inequality in Iraq.
More importantly, it paves the way for Iraqi women to play a leading role in building an inclusive and sustainable peace.