Iraq PM calls for wide female participation in elections

Iraqi PM urges women to participate widely in October elections
2 min read
11 September, 2021
Iraq's prime minister has called on women in his country to participate widely in the upcoming polls as he touched on issues still facing women's rights.
Women candidate numbers for this year's election are at half the level of the 2018 polls [Getty/AFP]

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi on Saturday called on women to participate widely in the country’s early parliamentary elections scheduled for next month, as he touched on the issues still facing Iraqi women.

Speaking during a Baghdad conference to combat violence against women, Al-Kadhimi acknowledged that the problem was still prevalent in Iraqi society, adding that there was no solution in Iraq without heading to the polls.

"We must emulate our original culture of respect for women," he said, as he called on the interior and justice ministries to provide all necessary measures to protect women’s rights in the country, adding that laws – such as those on domestic violence - needed to be passed to further guarantee this protection.

Out the 329-seats in the Iraqi legislature, a gender quota allows women to obtain 83 seats according to the constitution adopted in 2005, nearly a quarter of the assembly.

The new electoral law has also divided Iraq into 83 constituencies, to give female candidates a better chance at winning at last one seat in each constituency.

Despite this, women candidate numbers for this year's election are at half the level of the 2018 elections.

Activist Sarah Al-Khafaji told The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that the constitution gives women an important opportunity to reach parliament, which she said was not properly done in the current one.

She explained that Iraq still lacks leading women who have the ability to lead parties and political forces, adding, "Therefore, the role of women remained subservient to traditional party leaders throughout the past electoral cycles."

Early elections were among demands made by Iraq's popular protest movement which began in October 2019.