Though Iraq has witnessed considerable democratic gains over the years, certain elements of its legal system continue to impede the advancement of women’s rights.  The Women’s Anti-Discrimination Taskforce is focused on addressing these issues by passing and strengthening laws that protect women.

Formally launched in January 2012, the taskforce focuses on advocating for legislation that improves the legal status of women at the federal, provincial and local level.  Made up of members from government ministries, parliament, as well as judges, lawyers, activists and provincial councilors throughout Iraq, the taskforce has gained the support of traditional leaders outside the formal political system, such as religious clerics and tribal leaders. 

In just one year, the taskforce has seen notable successes.  It led the way advocating for legislation establishing women’s development centers which passed the provincial councils of Baghdad, Basra and Ninawa.  The taskforce advocated for a bill that was adopted by the Babil provincial council that criminalized domestic violence against women in the province.  Additionally, the taskforce has worked with 15 provincial councils to develop legislative plans that address the major concerns of their female constituents.  Members are also lobbying for and drafting legislation at the federal level to protect women’s rights.   

At the federal level, taskforce members in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs have drafted two bills criminalizing discrimination against women and domestic violence.  Both bills were sent to the Council of Ministers in November 2012 for approval before submission to the Council of Representatives for vote.  If passed into law, the bills would mark an important advancement for protecting the rights of women in Iraq.

To support the legislative efforts of the taskforce, a network of civil society groups launched an advocacy campaigns in the provinces where the taskforce is active.  Through the campaigns, citizens, community leaders and elected officials came together to develop recommendations that will strengthen areas of the legal code that are discriminatory towards women.  The campaigns’ impact has already been demonstrated in Dhi Qar, where a resolution allocating funds for a women’s development center has been adopted. 

The taskforce, along with the provincial advocacy campaigns, are supported by the International Republican Institute with a grant from the U.S. Department of State.

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