Ensuring their Voices are Heard – The Struggle of Female Parliamentarians

16 May 2013

image Iraq's female parliamentarians receive training on effective advocacy. Photo by UNDP Iraq 2013

Despite Iraq’s successful fulfillment of its constitutional mandate to allocate 25 per cent of all parliamentary seats to women, they remain underrepresented in the higher levels of the public sector and government.

As part of its support to Iraq’s parliament, the Council of Representatives, UNDP held a training session for the parliamentary Women’s Committee from 6 to 12 May. The training sought to empower female politicians to effectively voice their views and opinions within all areas of parliament, as well as in their constituencies and when engaging with the media.

Participants were trained on a variety of topics including planning and delivering effective speeches, presenting powerful presentations and creating memorable interventions in Parliament using such tools. The subjects were selected by the Committee as part of UNDP’s continuing efforts to support the personal and professional development of its members.

Thirteen female parliamentarians who were also members of the committee attended the training. They spoke of its participatory and interactive nature which they found to be extremely beneficial. Hefaa Mjalee, a member of the Woman’s Committee from Basrah said, “It was a very important training for all of us because women in Parliament must have these skills.” Dr. Bushraa Zwaini, a Gender Advisor for the Prime Minister said, “For the first time I was able to see my mistakes in delivering presentations. Now I feel as if can have a greater impact, especially through my vocal projection.”

These activities are part of UNDP’s on-going work on “Strengthening the Council of Representatives” that has been conducted since September 2011. The project will continue to strengthen the capacities of the Secretariat of the Council of Representatives and key partners such as the Women’s Committee of the Iraqi Parliament.