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Focus on Iraq

Iraqi Women's Democracy Initiative

"It is clear that the women of Iraq have a critical role to play in the future revival of their society. They bring skills and knowledge that will be vital to restoring Iraq to its rightful place in the region and in the world."  

Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky

 

Since 2004, the Office of the Senior Coordinator for International Women’s Issues (G/IWI) has been implementing the Iraqi Women’s Democracy Initiative (IWDI). The $24.5 million Initiative works through U.S. NGO partners on the ground in Iraq to build the capacity of Iraqi women to participate fully in the political and economic life of Iraq.

To date, programs under the IWDI have trained some 7,000 Iraqi women in several key skill areas including: leadership, political participation, entrepreneurship, women's rights advocacy, coalition building, negotiation, how to create women's NGOs and media skills, in addition to providing training on Iraqi women's constitutional rights and women's rights under international law.

This office recently awarded a number of new grants to U.S.-based NGOs working on women’s issues in Iraq.  These projects focus on support for women’s rights through multi-media public outreach, entrepreneurship and economic capacity building, women in justice, women and peace building, and increasing women's political participation, advocacy and leadership.

An exciting new focus area is the elimination of violence against women.  This project seeks to combat legally sanctioned and institutional violence against Iraqi women and girls.  It will implement the following objectives: provide legal, social and medical services for victims; improve government responses to gender-based violence and greater sensitivity toward gender issues.  The program will also promote greater public awareness of gender-based violence through the media, through advocacy, and traditional mediation techniques.

Entrepreneurship and economic capacity building for widows is another new focus for the IWDI.  Through this project, 470 widows who are heads of households are being trained on issues such as democracy, women’s rights, entrepreneurship and career-building skills.  As a result, disadvantaged Iraqi widows will acquire the skill sets to become economically self-sufficient, increase their independence, contribute to the economic development of Iraq, and enhance their understanding of their rights and civic responsibilities.

Another new program area will focus on women and peace-building, and will strengthen the capacity of women and civil society actors in the Tameem governorate to work cooperatively against violence and hate in their communities. This project will build conflict resolution skills and help women-focused organizations to design, expand, and oversee projects to steer children away from violence and towards participation in sports, youth centers and school.

Iraqi women are eager to play an active role in rebuilding their society.  With programs such as these, more women will be able to take part in the democratic process and serve as examples for future generations.

  
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