What's wrong with this picture of democracy in Iraq?

At one time under Saddam Hussein, the women in Iraq were active in public and political life with a large number of civil service jobs held by women (40%). I hate to see women lose ground politically under democracy. :rolleyes:

I refer you to an article by Annia Ciezadlo in The Christian Science Monitor, December 17, 2003:

**In Iraq’s 65 member government-in-exile, there are only three women. ** One of these women, known as “Sheikha Safia,” has had wide respect in her country. She has worked all of her life to rid Iraqi of the old regime. She and the other two women have called for quotas for women during the formative period, especially for writing the constitution. But the leaders, who are men, just laugh at them. Sheikha Safia comments:


These women want Iraqi women to make up at least one-third of parliament, local councils and the committee that is drafting the constitution. They are not asking for permanent quotas.

Does this bother anyone else?

The title should read:

What’s wrong with this picture of democracy in Iraq?

Mods, please change. Thanks!

It’s not a democracy yet.

If women have the right to vote, then all this is moot. And they will have the right to vote, and if they desire, they will elect women.

As you wish.

I think that you overlook the simple fact that in order to be able to vote for women, they first must be able to be in a postion where people can vote for them.

Salaam. A

Why should we expect women to be included later if they are not included in the formation of a democracy’s constitution in the 21st Century?

Why are they not there? Who determined the makeup of the government in exile?

Can you imagine what a stir there would be if the new government contained 62 women and 3 men? What are the chances of that happening?

Salaam, Pax, Shalom


My wild and possibly quite innacurate guess would be that these were disproportionately the lower-status jobs – the typists, the receptionists, the clerical officers. The higher up the bureaucratic food chain you went, the fewer women you found grazing there. Just a guess.

Well, yes. But the harsh reality of live is that you probably have to be prepared to choose between (a) bringing accountable government to Iraq, and (b) imposing your (western) cultural values (which I share) on Iraq.

Does what, exactly, bother anyone else?

Am I bothered by the fact that women have sought these quotas? No, not at all.

Am I bothered by the fact that the demand hasn’t met with universal acclaim? Well, my first reaction is that I’m not surprised. It wouldn’t actually be joyously greeted in many countries; why should we expect Iraq to be different?

But stop dodging the issue; am I bothered? Well, I’m not bothered by the rejection of the demand in so far as it relates to parliament. Assuming that these bodies are to be elected, directly or indirectly, then if we’re remotely serious about democracy people have to be free to elect whoever they want. That excludes quotas.

You could, of course, devise electoral arrangements designed to facilitate women candidates, or candidates representative of minorities (multi-seat constituences, proportional representation . . .). But quotas? No.

As for the drafting committee, there’s a stronger case to be made for quotas, or something similar. I assume its not going to be elected, and it’s more important that it should be representative of the diversity of interests and views that exist in Iraq. So it can’t consist entirely of (say) middle-aged middle-class Sunni men. It has to include women, Shi’ites, Kurds, Christians, young, old, middle-class, working class . . .

It’s not wildly out of line with what you’d see in almost any congress or parliament in the West. And it’s 3 more than we had in the US at the Constitutional Congress. If the Iraqis can pull of a tranistion to Democracy, this will be the least of their worries.

Actually, Saddam was an equal opportunity sadist. It’s true that women had pretty good access to opportunity in many industries. But on the other hand, they were also equally oppressed. I’m not sure you’d exactly be thinking about your spiffy new job when you’re being dragged off to be raped, or watching your children shot in front of you because one of them drew a funny picture of Saddam on a mailbox.

I hope women get a full partnership in Iraqi politics and society, but no matter what happens, they had it worse under Saddam.

Personally, I think that there should be no quotas whatsoever. The positions in the civil service, and the positions in the Parliament itself should be up for whoever is the most cappable perosn to hold the job, male, female or whatever.

It seems that the Iraqi government already has quite a few different quotas (correct me if I’m wrong) and so it’s not like this is some anti-democratic crackpot idea coming out of nowhere. The question is not “would this work in this government”, it’s “would this work in Iraq’s” In light of that, I think it is a legitimate concern.

I’m bothered by it. I would think that this would be a great opportunity to assert a more equal government.

Preferably half of them should be women. If they have asked for 1/3 I would hope that would be given to them. 3 out of 62 is just silly.

From the article I gather that such quotas were men in Afghanistan so I don’t understand why it would be a problem this time around.

Why do you assume that what was appropriate for Afghanistan must also be appropriate for Iraq?