The material posted here was provided to the Division for the 

Advancement of Women by the Government in response to a note 

verbale. It has being made available in electronic format from

the form received. 


Translated from Arabic

National Strategy for the Advancement of Iraqi Women


Throughout history, women in Iraq have enjoyed special care and consideration to ensure their role in society is strengthened, their honour safeguarded and their rights maintained.

Ever since mankind created the first laws and legislation, 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. This was demonstrated in Hammurabi's Code, in passages that confirm that a woman is considered a complete legal person.

This Code included provisions to protect wives and guarantee their human and financial rights. It affirmed the rights of girl children to the estate of their parents, and a woman's right to bear financial responsibility independently of her husband. It affirmed women's right to own property, engage in trade, enter into contracts, dispose freely of their money and occupy high office.

Islamic law conferred equal social rights on men and women and granted women the right of independent political participation, since God ordered his Prophet to receive the support of women independently. The Shariah also gave men and women equal rights in dissolving marriage and to education. It gave women complete independence in financial rights, property ownership in the widest sense and the disposal of their money.

Women have made significant advances in modern Iraq, participating widely in all aspects of political and working life. The glorious revolution of 17-30 July paid special attention to women and affirmed the importance of their role in building an integrated society by increasing their opportunities for development and progress, guaranteeing their rights and responding to the demands of social, economic, cultural and political developments in a manner appropriate to the humanitarian values and concepts on which Iraqi society is based.

Thanks to the consideration paid to women by President Saddam Hussain (May God preserve him), his belief in the importance of their role in society and his affirmation of the equal human value of men and women, women have begun to occupy more important positions in all aspects - economic, social and political - of working life. The number of women in all institutions and facilities and in high office has greatly increased. Every possible opportunity is open to women in Iraq to increase their educational, cultural and personal capacities in order to qualify for appointment to positions and guarantee them an effective role in Iraqi society. Working women are granted one year's paid maternity leave, and it is easy for them to get leave to care for their children. There are plenty of child-care facilities and kindergartens in all residential and work areas, and health and special medical services and mother and child care are provided in even the remotest areas. The support of President Saddam Hussain (May God preserve him) for women is embodied in his backing of the General Union of Iraqi Women as a national non-governmental organization and an important source of advice on women's issues.

The concern of the glorious revolution of 17-30 July with the promotion of women parallelled the outcome of international conferences on women since 1975, in which Iraqi women fully participated. Iraq has taken important international initiatives. We refer here in particular to the Conference of Non-Aligned and Other Developing Countries on the Role of Women in Development, held in Baghdad from 6 to 13 May 1979, and which used as a basis the Programme of Action adopted by the World Conference of the United Nations Decade for Women held in Copenhagen in 1980 and the Baghdad Conference on the Human Rights of Women (1994). Iraq also participated in other relevant regional and international conferences.

However, the numerous challenges faced by Iraq have severely affected the advancement of Iraqi women. Examples of these challenges are the eight-year Iranian aggression against Iraq (1980 to 1988) and the 30-Power aggression of January 1991, when all sorts of weapons were used, including those internationally outlawed.

In addition to the material damage and humanitarian suffering caused by military action, Iraqi women have been burdened and psychologically, physically and socially scarred by the continuation of the disastrous total embargo imposed on Iraq since 1990. This has severely circumscribed the role of women, reduced their participation in public life and destroyed their achievements and progress on educational, employment, social and economic levels. This conflicts with the specifications of resolutions adopted by international conferences on women, which have stressed the obligation of the international community to improve the situation of women and raise their educational, employment and social levels. The difficult economic circumstances that are widespread as a result of the total sanctions regime have forced many Iraqi women to abandon their education in order to be available for domestic work and attempt to alleviate the burdens of daily life which become ever more onerous, with a view to fulfilling the daily demands of the family and of children in particular.

Furthermore, the sanctions imposed on Iraq have widespread negative effects on women and their physical and mental well-being, as a result of the daily sufferings brought about by insufficient food and medicine, and the lack of basic humanitarian supplies for the family and for women in particular. At a press conference in Geneva in March 1996, the Assistant to the Regional Director for the Middle East of the World Health Organization stated that the health situation in Iraq had been set back 50 years, as has been confirmed by the report of United Nations agencies and humanitarian organizations that have visited Iraq.

The negative [illegible] resulting from the imposition of comprehensive economic sanctions on Iraq have drawn the attention of the international community to the dangers of such measures. The Secretary-General of the United Nations in his report "Supplement to an Agenda for Peace" (A/50/60-S/1995/1) referred to the ethical and legal aspects of applying sanctions and their conflict with the purposes of the United Nations, and urged the need for measures to limit the inhumane effects of sanctions on vulnerable groups. The Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, also called for measures to be taken in accordance with international law to alleviate such effects on women and children.

The general bases for the national strategy

First: Objective considerations

1. The goals, procedures and mechanism for the implementation of the national strategy for the advancement of Iraqi women are based on the provisions of the Iraqi Constitution and the precepts of the merciful Islamic Shariah, the cultural heritage, the values of Arab and Islamic society and the principles of human rights.

2. The role and status of women reflect the development of society. Support is required for the process of the advancement of women and their capacities in society, and the removal of any manifestations of discrimination against them.

3. The national strategy for the advancement of Iraqi women aims to relieve the inhumane effects of the ongoing total embargo imposed on Iraq since 1990, the negative effects of which hit women particularly hard, at personal and educational levels.

4. The strategy for dealing with women's issues is based on a formula of balanced rights and responsibilities and the complementarity of the roles of the various elements of society, and emphasizes the cohesion of the family as the basic unit of society.

5. The national strategy for the advancement of Iraqi women is based on interaction with the overall development plan in all its social, economic, political and cultural dimensions, and interaction with relevant regional and international strategies, taking into account the national and cultural particularities of Iraq.

Second: Procedural considerations:

The strategy was worked out in relation to the following fields:

1. The political field, including:

Women in positions of authority and decision-making

Women and armed struggle

2. The economic field, including:

Women and the economy

The burden of perpetual poverty

3. Social and cultural fields:

Human rights and ending violence against women

The education and training of women

Women and health

Women and the environment

Women and the media

Details of the National Strategy for the Advancement
of Iraqi Women to the year 2005

1. The political arena

First: Strengthening the participation of women in the power structure and decision-making at all levels

General aim:

The continued exercise by women of their political and civil rights, the improvement of their position with regard to employment by raising the numbers of women in high administrative positions and increasing their participation in the power structure and the decision-making process at all levels, by means of raising their level of education and qualifications.


At official institution level:

(a) Women's continued participation in the formulation of laws and legislation in keeping with international guidelines and conventions and appropriate to national and cultural particularities.

(b) Increased access for women to equal opportunities for administrative promotion, training and qualification, in order to be eligible for high executive and representative positions in all national institutions.

(c) Statistics must include indicators to measure levels of disparity between men and women in the decision-making process, and these statistics should be used in planning and policy-making.

(d) The role of the national committee for the advancement of women is to be strengthened by establishing a working mechanism, with permanent status, that will monitor implementation of this Strategy.

On the level of popular and trade organizations:

(a) Women are to be given equal opportunities to assume leadership positions in political parties, unions and popular organizations and to make their leadership role effective through the adoption of practical measures to expand their membership base and the removal of any obstacles.

(b) Women are to be encouraged to participate in elections and nominations for local councils and various national bodies.

(c) Seminars and meetings are to be held and publications issued in order to raise women's awareness of their legal right to vote and participate in the decision-making process.

Second: Increase the participation of women in the peacemaking process, the resolution of national and international disputes and the protection of women from the effects thereof.

General aim:

To employ national and international mechanisms to protect women from the effects of armed conflict and increase their participation in peacemaking mechanisms.


On official institution level:

(a) Women are to be included in official delegations to conferences and meetings concerned with peacemaking, negotiations dealing with the peaceful resolution of disputes and preventive diplomacy and are to participate in international activities related to relief work and humanitarian assistance.

(b) Educational curricula should include subjects which establish linkages between peace and national defence and stress the importance of women's role in that process.

(c) Seminars and discussion groups are to be held with the participation of international and regional organizations in order to discuss the effect of war and the continued imposition of the sanctions regime as a form of genocide against women in Iraq and as one form of violence against them and against their humanity, since it has had serious physical and psychological effects and threatens their survival and dignity.

On the level of popular and trade organizations:

(a) The General Union of Iraqi Women and international organizations shall carry out field surveys and studies on the suffering of Iraqi women and families as a result of the war and the sanctions regime, propose appropriate mechanisms to alleviate their effects on women and institute procedures to prepare women for the post-embargo era.

(b) Training sessions on the role of women in strengthening peace and in national defence should be held.

(c) The General Union of Iraqi Women shall participate in aid and humanitarian assistance operations.

2 - The economic field

First: Strengthening women's economic self-reliance and access to sources of income

General aim:

To increase the opportunities for women to participate in the economy in order to increase their income and sources of income, and supplement the family income. This will enable them to respond to any negative developments that put them in the position of having to rely on their own resources, and increase their participation in economic life, development planning and assistance in the provision of services.

At official institution level:

(a) To encourage investment projects that make it possible to distribute employment opportunities for women, such as small crafts projects and light industry, and establish them in residential areas.

(b) To work for the provision by government financial institutions of flexible financial arrangements to grant loans on easy terms to finance production and service projects undertaken by women.

(c) To develop training activities and cooperation between the Government and private sectors, particularly in regard to programmes to develop the administrative, financial and technical skills that will enable women to own and administer various means of production.

(d) To provide services that will help to alleviate the severity of the conflict between women's work in the home and outside it, such as transportation, nurseries and other facilities which lighten women's load.

(e) Statistics are to include data on gender, in accordance with international categories intended to facilitate the formulation and implementation of programmes to increase women's employment.

On the level of popular and trade organizations:

(a) To intensify the efforts of the General Union of Iraqi Women, in particular, to raise women's awareness and increase women's ability to enter the labour market.

(b) Broaden the basis of information on the range of and opportunities for employment for women in economic activities.

Second: Relieving women of the burden of poverty:

General aim

To end the symptoms of poverty that have newly appeared in Iraqi society as a result of the economic situation brought about by the embargo imposed on Iraq, and to work to alleviate their impact on women, within the framework of comprehensive development plans. To establish the principle of paying women the attention they deserve, in order to raise the level of women who are heads of households in particular.


At official institution level:

(a) Make available precise statistics broken down by gender on [illegible] poverty on the basis of the indicators mentioned in the Social Welfare Act, as a basis for devising total or partial economic and social policies that will guarantee the elimination of factors causing poverty, particularly among women.

(b) Carry out a statistical social study with a view to revealing the magnitude of the problem of poverty among women who are heads of households, and set up development programmes to raise their incomes and permit them to satisfy the basic needs of their families.

(c) Encourage the private sector to set up small production projects and workshops for household goods and local products in order to employ poor women.

(d) Improve administrative, accounting and technical systems in order to improve the quality of production in productive family projects and ensure the success of such projects, which are an important mechanism in the provision of employment prospects for poor women and those with limited incomes.

(e) Formulate and implement training programmes for women covered by the Social Welfare Act, in order to enable women, particularly heads of households and those living in rehabilitation institutions, to carry out income-generating activity and improve their economic circumstances.

(f) Provide affordable accommodation suitable for women who are heads of households and disabled and elderly women.

(g) Enable poor women of productive working age to obtain credit facilities and loans for the purpose of setting up small production and handicraft projects and improving their economic circumstances.

On the level of popular and trade organizations:

(a) Support the activities of the General Union for Cooperation, in particular productive family associations; work to expand their activities into new areas and ensure an increase in the number of women benefiting.

(b) Support the efforts of the General Union of Iraqi Women by expanding projects for popular nurseries, and increase their numbers to meet the needs of residential communities and provide increased employment opportunities for women.

(c) Support production projects in the General Union of Iraqi Women and provide employment opportunities for poor women and those with families to support.

(d) Support the activities of social security funds in popular organizations, ensure the provision of assistance to poor women and those with families to support, and help the families of students in institutions and mosques to cater for their educational needs.

3 - In social and cultural fields

First: human rights and the elimination of violence against women:

General aim:

To guarantee human rights and work steadily and effectively to maintain the provision of the protection necessary for women, in the context of the family and society, against all forms of physical or mental violence against them.


At official institution level:

(a) Follow up the implementation of laws relating to the preservation of the rights of women and of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, while respecting national particularities.

(b) Institute preventive measures and train relevant institutions in resisting violence against women.

(c) The statistics kept of police departments and judges are to include a special field on violence against women in order to assist in monitoring and treating such violence.

(d) Maintain and develop support for educational curricula which draw on the Islamic and Arab principles and values which honour women, respect their humanity and forbid any kind of violence against them.

On the level of popular and trade organizations:

(a) The General Union of Iraqi Women shall undertake field surveys to identify cases of violence against women, observe how extensive such violence is in society and suggest measures to end it.

(b) Reinforce the family counselling centres provided by the General Union of Iraqi Women and their role of resolving family problems and preventing the incidence of disputes in the family.

(c) Familiarize women and society with the laws and regulations which guarantee respect for women and prohibit violence against them.

Second: Increase the overall benefit of health services to women at all stages of life.

General aim:

To strengthen the participation of women in developing health policies which respond to their needs and safeguard their health, and ensure their participation in implementing these policies and ensuring that the physical and psychological health needs of women are met at all stages of their lives.


At the official level:

(a) Strengthen and disseminate measures to ensure awareness of reproductive health and promote safe motherhood.

(b) Develop curative and preventive health services, in particular with regard to breast and cervical cancer, AIDS and hepatitis, in order to detect and treat them at an early stage.

(c) Support, and provide incentives to encourage females to enter, the nursing profession.

(d) Continue to raise awareness of health issues through all the media, with a view to achieving the goals and strategies of the first half of the Decade.

On the level of popular and trade organizations:

(a) Strengthen the role of these organizations, increasing the services they provide for women by implementing campaigns and preventive, curative and environmental programmes, and providing mother and child and psychological health services.

(b) Broaden the efforts of the General Union of Iraqi Women to prepare health awareness programmes with a view to achieving the goals and strategies of the first half of the Decade and the environmental chapters.

Third: Ensure that women take advantage of available educational and training opportunities, which enable them to be independent.

General aim:

To encourage women to profit from educational and training opportunities and halt female school drop-out.


On the official level:

(a) Continue efforts to make education compulsory taking into account the special circumstances imposed by the sanctions regime.

(b) Continue to formulate programmes for the education of adults and eradication of illiteracy, and open channels linking this kind of education with regular education, in order to enable women to continue their education to the highest possible level in accordance with their abilities and talents.

(c) Expand women's participation in the formulation of policies, programmes and educational curricula.

(d) Continue to raise women's standard of education and level of qualifications.

On the level of popular and trade organizations:

(a) Identify the obstacles which contribute to female drop-out at all educational levels.

(b) Introduce new types of technical training in popular organizations by developing curricula and methods of training, and preparing whatever is necessary to extend the participation of women in such activities.

(c) Conduct a family awareness campaign to explain the importance of females continuing their education and taking part in campaigns to eradicate illiteracy and promote compulsory education.

(d) Continue support for the activities of the campaign to teach the Holy Qur'an and how to recite it, by introducing educational courses and making available everything necessary for their success.

Fourth: Use methods of communication effectively in order to strengthen roles in society and achieve equality between the sexes on the basis of the above- mentioned principles:

General aim:

Properly employ all the media in Iraq in order to communicate a positive image of the role of the effective woman in the family and society and attempt to develop the capabilities and skills of women, implementing media programmes as part of the national strategy.


At official institution level:

(a) Amend censorship controls of play, cinema and television scripts and song lyrics, to ensure that their contents do not conflict with Arab and Islamic values guaranteeing women their human value and positive image.

(b) Establish clear standards for information materials that deal with women's issues and contribute to the formation and direction of public opinion.

On the level of popular and trade organizations:

(a) Develop training programmes and methods relating to women's information bodies, to provide them with the means to keep abreast of developments and improve performance.

(b) Strengthen the capacities of the technical section of the Union for the production of radio and television, enabling it to develop its radio and television production for urban and rural women, and compensate for the damage suffered by the infrastructure as a result of the 30-Power aggression and the sanctions, and stay abreast of technological and technical developments in this field.

(c) Support the information section attached to the executive office of the General Union of Iraqi Women and the information units attached to Union branches in the governorates in order to acquire communication technology, computers and training.

Fifth: The effective participation of women in the administration of natural resources and environmental protection:

General aim:

(a) To improve measures to halt environmental degradation and work to protect the environment and strengthen the participation of women in the administration of natural resources and environmental protection.


At official institution level:

(a) Involve women in putting in place environmental legislation with direct effects on the health of themselves and their families.

(b) Provide environmental information and include in educational curricula the issue of sound management of natural resources and the environment, and the development of women's capacities in this field.

On the level of popular and trade organizations:

(a) Concentrate the efforts of these organizations in order to provide effective administration to implement resolutions concerning the protection of natural resources, and programmes that limit environmental degradation.

(b) Carry out research, studies and field surveys and publish statements relating to the role of women in environmental protection.

Follow-up and coordination mechanism

1. A national supreme council shall be formed, to be called the National Council for the Advancement of Iraqi Women, to monitor implementation of this Strategy. Its members shall be drawn from the following ministries: Labour and Social Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Culture and Education, Justice, Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research, Health and from the Institute of Planning and the General Union of Iraqi Women.

Representation in the Council shall be at either ministerial or deputy minister level, and at the level of the head of the General Union of Iraqi Women.

2. Ministries and departments that are not linked to a ministry shall nominate a party to follow up the implementation of this Strategy under the auspices of the National Council.

3. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall have responsibility for supervising parties concerned with international work and cooperation with the United Nations and its specialized agencies in this field.

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