How women are fighting corruption in Iraq

Established by UNDP, the Women against Corruption Forum in Iraq is the first of its kind in the country. Member of the Forum, Mariam Al-Fattousi from Muthanna Governorate shares her experience on how this group is driving change and working towards an Iraq free of corruption.

December 16, 2020

Mariam Al-Fartousi, a member of the Women against Corruption Forum in Iraq, discussing with other members from the forum the best work schemes to tackle corruption in Iraq.

When I was invited with a number of women from different governorates to discuss fighting corruption in Iraq, it was the first time I heard about the role of women in combating corruption discussed so boldly and clearly. 

We have always discussed the government’s efforts and official entities in fighting this phenomenon, which unfortunately became rampant in our society. However, women were historically excluded from the entities and institutions tasked with combating financial and administrative corruption. 

Despite its societal importance, the role of women was always overlooked. UNDP’s invitation, in the summer of 2020, to discuss this issue made us think deeply about our various roles and trust our abilities and the impact we can have on our society. Since then, I was one of the first women to volunteer to work on this cause with other colleagues. We discussed, on a daily basis, how corruption deprives us and our children of the services we need. Because of corruption, the roads in my city are not paved and I pray that neither I nor my children get ill as there are no good hospitals. And, because of corruption, the son of our neighbors could not find work, decided to emigrate and drowned. His mother is still crying over him.  

Before that day, I had no aspirations. All our dreams collapsed because of corruption and corrupt people who, we believed, had all the power, while we only had frustration and despair. However, today, I can emphatically and clearly say that the hope, power and persistence of Iraqi women will achieve our dream of a better future for us, and our children. 

The power of corrupt people is not real. We will surround this phenomenon through our important work and we will encourage society to reject corruption and corrupt people. I decided with a number of women members in the Muthanna Governorate to develop a strategy to raise awareness about the role of women in combating corruption, despite the difficulties and mockery we faced when we started saying that we, the Iraqi women, aspire to a country free of corruption. 

Since September 2020, we have been working incessantly and visiting decision-makers. We are pleased to say that Al-Muthanna Governor, professors at Al-Muthanna University and a large number of women offered great encouragement and were impressed with the Iraqi women’s bravery and boldness in fighting corruption. The Muthanna Governor’s Consultant for Civil Society Organizations showed his support and expressed readiness to cooperate with us to engage the local organizations in instilling the forum's ideas and goals during their social events aiming to establish the anti-corruption culture together.

I probably should say that I was keen on volunteering for the Women against Corruption Forum because the women members believe in their roles, and the forum’s principles and goals conformed with my ideas and aspirations in building a country free of corruption. In addition, my work with the forum opened new horizons before me including positive relationships and constructive ideas which serve the society and highlight the role of women in combating corruption. I thank the UNDP for supporting women in all governorates and in all fields.