Women-led organizations forge alliance for lasting peace in Iraq

May 14, 2023


Networking and building alliances are among the most effective tools to promote human rights and develop an agenda for gender equality, however these are major obstacles in Iraq for women, acting as agents of change in a challenging content. According to UNDP’s 2019 Gender Inequality Index, Iraq ranks 146 out of 162 countries. The number of adult women with at least a secondary level of education is 39.5 percent compared to an average of 49.3 percent across Arab states. Women’s participation in the labour market is only 11.6 percent, and accordingly, during the 2021 election, 95 women were elected in the Council of Representatives out of 329.

In 2014, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) declared a caliphate, Iraqi women faced Sexual and Gender-based Violence perpetrated by the terrorist group.  Since 2014, women’s groups have formed to initiate change in Iraq by building sustainable peace grounded on localizing the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. One issue currently facing women is and a widespread perception that women are lacking the skills and experience needed to effectively participate in supporting peace and security in Iraq. 

UNDP is proud to spotlight women-led organizations who introduce themselves as best equipped to lay the foundation for peacebuilding and development efforts. Three women-led networks - Together (Ma’an) Network for Sustainability, the Iraqi Network of UNSCR 1325 and the SDGs Network - have taken the initiative to influence the concepts of security and sustainable recovery, and address the complex nature of insecurity faced by women. These organizations are working in line with UNDP’s new framework of ten key points to advance gender equality in crisis situations. 

  1. Stop the brutal trends in conflict-related sexual violence and the pervasiveness of gender-based violence in crisis.
  2. Claim women’s agency as leaders of peace processes and political institutions: Women must be at the table.
  3. Ensure women’s access to justice and security and their full rights as citizens.
  4. Promote the participation and leadership of women and women’s organizations in crisis and recovery
  5. Value women’s unique knowledge and capacities in resilience-building, risk reduction and climate action.
  6. Promote transformative and gender-responsive livelihoods and economic recovery.
  7. Transform government to deliver equally for all.
  8. Work with men and boys to challenge violent masculinities.
  9. Prioritize gender data in analysis of risk, crisis and conflict: Data is not a choice anymore.
  10. Increase funding for gender equality and women’s empowerment: Get the numbers right.

With UNDP’s support, this new alliance launched in March 2023 has proposed a comprehensive institutional structure to implement the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in Iraq. The alliance has championed a local framework based on sustainable recovery, climate justice and linking UNSCR 1325 with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda.  With a focus on SDGs  5 (Gender Equality), 13 (Climate Action), 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong institutions) and in partnership with Civil Society Organizations, the private sector, government institutions, and academics, we are excited to see how this inclusive, women-led alliance will influence Iraqi society next.