On April 30 2014, federal Parliamentary elections were held in Iraq. Now, 17 women are entering the Iraqi Parliament as first-time MPs after having received training and support from Al-Amal and Hivos through the Women Power in Politics (WPP) programme that started in October 2013.
One of the trainees Suham Musa of the State of Law Party, Qadisiya province, was elected based on the number of votes cast for her, putting her in the company of 22 women who won parliamentary seats without relying on the 25% quota for female MPs. This represents 4.5 times more such cases than in 2010.
In the months before the elections, Hivos and al-Amal trained and supported more than 800 female candidates from all provinces of Iraq and from a wide variety of political parties. All of them were newcomers to the political arena. They learned to analyse their strengths and weaknesses and were trained in developing election campaigns, communication with targeted audiences and the media, and political negotiations.
Women Power in Politics (WPP) programme courses were held throughout Iraq; sometimes at alternative locations for safety reasons. In addition to the capacity development, the WPP programme focused on how to encourage more balanced news coverage of female election candidates and getting political parties and decision-makers to consider women for serious positions. Another goal was to teach the women techniques for making target audiences more aware of both the existing bias against and obstacles for women in politics and the opportunities for women to participate in decision-making. The awareness work was done through stakeholders’ conferences and local community meetings throughout the country.
The 17 women trained by the WPP programme who will take a seat in Parliament hail from all over Iraq and from different political parties. During the coming months, Hivos and Al-Amal will continue to support them in their work as new MPs. This includes individual consultations on a variety of issues, as well as exchanges with experienced female MPs from Iraq and the Netherlands. The programme will last until March 2015.
The work WPP carried out with women who did not obtain a seat in Parliament is expected to improve their opportunities to operate in the public sphere, also outside Parliament.
The WPP programme develops leadership skills among women in the hopes this will lead to greater peace and security in Iraq and buildi a democratic system based on the principle of equality among all Iraqis without discrimination.. This is why Hivos and Al-Amal. urge the political leaders who will form the next Iraqi cabinet of ministers to appoint more women to leadership positions.