A workshop on the gender assessment tool in public sector institutions. Photo: UNDP Iraq/2019.

 

By: Sundus Abbas
Gender Specialist


Despite her academic Superiority as she was always one of the top students in "College of Management and Economics" / University of Baghdad, but the difficult circumstances that she experienced on various levels at that time prevented her from obtaining a master's or doctoral degrees. Yet She was able to acquire many experiences and skills in her career journey in the Ministry of Planning to reflect a bright picture of the determination of an Iraqi woman working in the public sector towards Success and supremacy. That is Ms. Uqood Hussain, the general director of Human Development Directorate in Ministry of Planning.

In her interactive discussion with UNDP Gender Specialist, Sundus Abbas, she stated that she has always tried, as a working woman in Iraq went through years of consecutive phases of war, embargo and losing of the beloved ones, to achieve a balance between her personal responsibilities and work requirements without losing her ambitions.  In addition, she bravely faced the obstacles that meant to reduce her ambition and minimize her dreams to be like any ordinary woman in a traditional, oriental society that puts women in very limited stereotypes.

Ms. Uqood create with her team an opportunity via the contribution in, with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) writing the first Iraq Report on the Status of Women and the Development Agenda 2030. This report, which was under the direct supervision of the Minister of Planning, focused on the importance of supporting local government and non-governmental partners to mainstream gender equality in order to support the transformation of women into effective policy-making and to identify the institutional coordination mechanisms which may lead to integrate gender issues into different public administrations, thus strengthening the Government's approach. In addition, this report considered as the first document that reflects the situation of Iraqi women in light of the SDG 2030 data.

During the period 1980-2000 the ambitious woman had always had to struggle on more than one front because of the lack of empowerment programs and despite the difficulties that Ms. Uqood faced during her career, she always proudly refers to her male colleagues who were respectful of women, which always underlines the importance of having men who support women, at the same time she did not hide the discrimination that she felt under the social conditions that were often supportive of men. Thus, Ms. Uqood Encouraging working women to believe in the importance of empowerment, addressing and having their voices heard and their presence effective to have an impact in enriching discussions and dialogues.

In the same context, Ms. Uqood referred to the support of the Deputy Minister to her and her team to adopt the Gender Equality Seal (GES) tool for the integration of a gender perspective in public institutions during 2018-2019. It’s a tool developed by UNDP to help the public institutions to establish a baseline for the current status of the institutions, which would Assist in deciding on the priorities the institution should work to establish in the next few years. As well as, the aim of the tool is to measure the progress made by the Foundation in achieving the goals and priorities in the field of gender equality. Iraq was chosen to be among the countries that tried to test this unique tool to create competition between public sector institutions in reviewing their programs and plans in terms of gender mainstreaming. she believes that it is necessary to generalize it to all institutions.

In addition, Ms. Uqood said that she believes that the most effective  ways towards women’s economic empowerment in Iraq can be summarized by the rehabilitation of women and build their capacities on an ongoing basis in addition to creating employment opportunities for them without discrimination and give them priority in obtaining these opportunities, taking into account that Female unemployment rate is more than double that of males, in addition to the importance of encouraging women to work in the private sector and providing decent work opportunities while facilitating procedures for granting women loans to establish small income-generating projects, especially for widows and women heads of households, as well as the importance of political will to adopt Bram Real and innovative economic empowerment and that meet the needs of women, and affirms that the road is still long and need continuous efforts.

Another achievement of which Ms. Uqood is proud of, is her contribution on the establishment of the Supreme Council for Population 2013, as Iraq is considered as one of the countries with high population growth. On other side, Dr. Diaa Kazim, one of Ms. Uqood's colleagues at the ministry for more than ten years, said: " she has always seen as a competent and persistent woman with leadership skills, that works hard and enjoys the love and respect of everyone due to her kindness that is close to the heart."

 "I do not consider Ms. Uqood to be just a manager as much as I see her as a very successful team leader as she always encourages us to be creative. Thus, I have learned from her the concepts of care and accuracy," said Fawaz Saleh.

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