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Fostering Gender Equality in Iraq

August 2, 2023

Throughout history, women in Iraq have enjoyed special care and consideration to ensure their role in society is strengthened, their honor safeguarded, and their rights maintained. Iraq has paid special attention to women’s issues, and provided women with legal protection against anything which might prejudice their rights or human dignity.

However, Iraq has prevailing gender gaps in all spheres of life. In the Global Gender Gap Index 2020, Iraq ranked 152nd out of total 153 countries assessed in the world, with major gender gaps identified in economic participation and opportunities and educational attainment for women. The gender gap in political empowerment is also huge.

Against the average labor force participation rate of 66 percent, the female labor force participation rate is only 13 percent against that of 76 percent for males. The estimated annual income earned by females is only $3,500 against $27,200 earned by males.

The Iraqi Constitution guarantees basic human rights to all Iraqi women. Article 20 provides for universal suffrage for both male and female Iraqi citizens. Article 30 establishes that the state shall guarantee to the individual and the family—especially children and women—social and health security, the basic requirements for living a free and decent life and shall secure for them suitable income and appropriate housing.

The National Strategy for Iraqi Women was first launched in 2005 with objectives of strengthening participation of women in the power structure and decision-making at all levels, strengthening women’s self-reliance and access to sources of income and alleviation of poverty, and ensuring human rights and elimination of violence against women. The Government has recently re-launched its National Strategy for 2023-2030.

Article 10 of the Federal Financial Management Law no. 6 of 2019 provides that the Ministries of Planning, Labor, and Social Affairs shall prepare the gender budget and discuss it with the Ministry of Finance to unify it with the federal general budget draft law.

Henceforth, as GIZ’s Senior Public Finance Advisor to the government, I am currently supporting the Ministry of Planning of the Federal Government of Iraq to prepare a Gender-responsive development plan aimed at reducing the gender gaps and fostering gender equality in Iraq.

I have drafted a Policy Note that highlights an urgency to include gender considerations in all expenditure and revenue reforms and seeks to provide practical recommendations for the Government of Iraq for strengthening gender responsive PFM, improving gender responsiveness in expenditure and revenue management, and piloting gender responsive approach in a few sectors where public expenditure can significantly reduce gender gaps.

This Policy Note will be presented in a Stakeholders’ Workshop in September 2023 which will include Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare; and the Ministry of Finance.

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