Conference on Women Voices in Community Reconciliation: Establishing a diverse taskforce to enhance women’s participation

Dec 7, 2017

Dr. Al-Saadi: “Iraq has achieved three important milestones during the past years: liberating the land, overcoming the economic crisis and reaffirming national unity. These great victories will allow the Government to fight corruption, achieve community reconciliation and empower women to take part in leading the new Iraq.” Photo: Israa Mansour/UNDP Iraq/2017

Baghdad - Over one hundred Iraqi women from different backgrounds and governorates agreed to establish a taskforce to enhance the role of women in community reconciliation, concluding a high-level conference held in Baghdad on 7 December 2017. The Implementation and Follow-up on National Reconciliation Committee (IFNRC) and the United Nations Development Programme jointly organized this conference under the patronage of the Office of Iraq’s Prime Minister, represented by the President of IFNRC, Dr. Mohammed Salman Al-Saadi.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Al-Saadi said: “Iraq has achieved three important milestones during the past years: liberating the land, overcoming the economic crisis and reaffirming national unity. These great victories will allow the Government to fight corruption, achieve community reconciliation and empower women to take part in leading the new Iraq.”

The Chairperson of the High Commission for the Advancement of Iraqi Women, Mayor of Baghdad, Dr. Zhekra Jaber Alwach, said: “Women in Iraq are not victims, but partners in the establishment and sustainability of peace. They should be engaged in the political process, particularly in decision-making and conflict resolution, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.” 

Facilitated by UNDP’s Support to Integrated Reconciliation in Iraq project (SIRI), three working groups discussed challenges and opportunities at the cultural, educational, social, and economic and media levels. Recommendations included engaging women leaders in local communities with the IFNRC; developing a transitional justice programme that ensures women participation; reviewing the curriculum for primary and secondary schools to include positive images on gender perspective in community reconciliation; and supporting the Centre for Women Studies of the University of Baghdad to conduct research on women’s role in community reconciliation to inform advocacy and government decision-making.

UNDP Country Director for Iraq, Mr. Mounir Tabet, reiterated: “Community reconciliation cannot be sustained without the participation of women. Iraqi women can certainly participate and lead towards the pursuit of community reconciliation that will create trust between the diverse cities, villages and communities of Iraq, hence enable women to contribute to shaping and bringing peace to their societies.”

The conference gave floor to minority and displaced women to share their experiences, helping to identify paths for enhancing their role in post-ISIL Iraq. 

Secretary-General of the Women Minorities Forum, Christian activist, Mrs. Evan Jacoob, said: “I refused to be a victim, and transferred all the pain and suffering I experienced during ISIL’s occupation into hope and dedication to the cause of reconciliation in my community.”

In turn, Yazidi activist, Mrs. Amena Saeed, recalled: “The fact the Muslim women provided protection to Yazidi women and girls fleeing from ISIL is a clear example of how, hand in hand, we can help to reconcile our societies.”

Through its Support to integrated reconciliation in Iraq (SIRI) project, UNDP is working to sustenance the development of a three-fold mechanism under the leadership of Iraqi stakeholders. SIRI is working on an approach to develop, support and sustain civic participation in reconciliation and transitional justice processes at every level of society, from communities to the highest corridors of power. The Project is based on the following three main pillars: 1) Public Awareness Raising on reconciliation 2) Establishment of Local Peace Committees and 3) Victim Support with an emphasis on the redress of sexual and gender crime.

 

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