Iraq: Conference on women's role in national reconciliation

Women Leadership Institute
The conference was held in Kurdistan-Erbil on 21-22 September 2006, under the slogan "let's build a safe home" and dealt with women's role in achieving national reconciliation.
More than 100 women organization from all the Iraqi provinces have taken part in this conference, it was attended also by the two state Ministers for women affairs in the center government and Kurdistan government and provinces councils members. The participants were (121) persons.
On the first day, WLI's director, Dr. Sundus Abass Made the opening of the conference, she welcomed the participants and confirmed through the opening speech upon the necessity of raising woman role and promoting her participation that she deserve is related to the rights that she gain, rights of her humanity and dignity, and according to the essential of the National Reconciliation project that aims at ensuring rights of all with the language of peace and dialogue, the Iraqi women movement is aiming at finding an eco and position within this project.

After that, the Minister of women in the center government, Mrs. Fatin Abd Alrahman, presented her speech followed by Mrs. Jinan Kasim, the Minister of women in Kurdistan. They both confirmed upon calling the women for working by all their energy in order to achieve the reconciliation and in order to make women get help from each other without mentioning that this came from the north and that came from south. Then a speech by the director of family and women committee in the National council of Kurdistan, who has thanked WLI for this brave initiative to hold a conference in Erbil province. After a short coffee break the participants have studied many axis and work papers presented by the women activists from all the Iraqi provinces:-
  • National Reconciliation from Islamic prospective.
  • Struggle experience of Kurdistan women.
  • The role of women organizations through achieving National Reconciliation.
  • The expected role of women in the position of making decision to achieve the National Reconciliation.
Then the participants were divided into four groups to discus the following topics:

Group 1: Studied the expected role of women in the position of making decision to establish the national unity.
Group 2: Studied the real and expected role of women organization to achieve the National Reconciliation.
Group 3: Studied Styles and methods of activating women's role inside the family to achieve the National Reconciliation.
Group 4: Studied the styles and methods of activating and raising the culture for forgiveness.

The four groups' recommendations were reviewed after the lunch time and then the finishing of the first day work. On the anniversary of the world peace day which was on the same day of the conference, the participants have came out evening with a silent candles rally to announce the Iraq women attitude rejection terrorist, violence and sectarianism fighting, and the attitude that adopting on the same time the national reconciliation project.

The women raised through the rally the conference logo [Let’s build safe home] [No for terror, No for violence, No for sectarianism]. They also lightened candles as a symbol for light that challenge the darkness.

The second day started by a review a summery of the previous day then the papers of the current day:-
  1. Studying the international methodology of dealing with the conflict effects upon women.
  2. Security Council resolution 1325.
  3. CEDAW and the world treaties to stop violence against women.
  4. Women role to raise the culture of forgiveness in the society.
After a short coffee break there were a discussions among the participants and the lecturers through which they confirmed upon the necessity of adopting the Iraqi constitution for the human rights documents and CEDAW with the importance of presenting official reports to the concerned international sides which the participants suggested to be adopted by the two ministries for women affaires in the central government and Kurdistan government. With conforming upon the importance of starting to prepare shadow reports which are supposed to be presented by women NGOs then they came out with group of recommendations that have been put as a draft for the final statement there recommendations have been viewed for discussing and analyzing in order to reach the final form. Finally, WLI's director directed her deep thanks to the audiences and promised them that there will be a continuous communication between WLI and women from all the Iraqi provinces, Dr.Sundus also thanked WLI's staff and facilitators for their efforts. The participants have also thanked Dr. Sundus Abass for this initiative through which she gathers women from all the Iraqi provinces.

The conference was covered by media, kurdsat, Kurdistan, Hurra Iraq, Iraqiya kurdiya, PUK, PDK, the other voice newspaper, Al taaky newspaper, Al Sabah newspaper, kerblaa today, people path, Aum albaneen and Media newspaper.

As an express for the supports of the political leadership and the government of Kurdistan for women efforts aiming at establishing the National Unity by adopting and supporting the national reconciliation project and neglecting terror and sectarianism, the following meetings had been held:-
  1. Meeting with Mr.Masud Al barazany, president of Kurdistan government Mr.Masud has a meeting with a delegation from the conference participants in the presidential location on the first day of the conference September, 21, 2006 at five afternoons. The meeting lasted for 45 minutes, the two ministers of women affairs participated in this meeting beside WLI's director and representatives from Najaf and Kerbla. Mr. President welcomed and appreciate WLI's role for adopting such distinguished initiative of gathering women from all over Iraq to study the role that they could play in the National Reconciliation. WLI's director talked about WLI and its activities in Iraq and its future programs, she talked also about the women sufferers due to the bad security situation. She talked also about the historical role that should be played by the Kurdish leaders to achieve the National Reconciliation due to the critical current stage and the importance of supporting the women with their demands of the constitutional amendments. Dr. Sundus also mentioned the need of the Iraqi activists for certain facilitating in Kurdistan to implement their activities, she also suggested making these facilitating and working on reducing the distance among the Iraqis. The meeting was fruitful and Mr.Masud promise to support the women movement and their demands.
  2. Meeting with Mr. Umer Fatah, deputy prime minister in kurduistan government. Mr. Deputy prim minister has a meeting with a delegation of another number of the participants from Saladin, Samawa, Basrah, Najaf, and Baghdad beside the two ministers and WLI's director at 01:30. The meeting lasted for an hour on September, 21, 2006. Mr. Umer appreciated this activity and WLI's ability which is NGO to conduct such activity to gather women from different Iraqi provinces. He showed his admire with the stander of organizing and participating. WLI's director talked about WLI and its activities, its future programs and the conference goals and activities, she demanded with bigger role to achieve the national reconciliation and supporting the women movement.
  3. Meeting for both of the ministries for women affaires, which was their first meeting through which they thanked WLI’s director for this initiative.
  4. Meeting with provinces council's members on September, 21, 2006 from 09:00 to 10:30 pm. eleven member participated in this meeting. Dr. Sundus showed to the members WLI's concern and desire with them and its training program for the coming stage. She asked about their work conditions and the dead line of the election. We noticed that no one knew the certain date of the elections. The participants showed their deep thanks and real happiness for this concern because this was the first time that they found some body who care about them and wanted to train them, but they mention the difficulty to implement the training during Ramadan, they suggested to implement it after Aeed. They insist upon their need for this developing program. WLI's director suggested that they should participate in WLI's activities that take place in the provinces especially those about women's role through the National Reconciliation and establishing national unity.
  5. Meeting with the directors of the organizations, September, 22, 2006 from 08:00 to 09:00 am between WLI's director and her staff with the organizations directors. After she thanked them for their attendance, she showed them WLI's working program for the coming stage, she listened to their points of views about the conference and especially the women work in the provinces. At last they thanked WLI because after this participation they became more confidence and have more desire to communicate and participate in all the activities of national reconciliation.
Recommendation of the conference [women’s role through the national reconciliation] 21-22, September, 2006:-
  1. Women should adopt and support the present program of the Iraqi government and working on activating the mechanisms of implementing this program.
  2. Demanding the women in the position of making decision [legislation and implementation authority] to activate their role through the National Reconciliation.
  3. The Iraqi women movement hopped to find an eco for their demands representing by establishing the state of law and equality and stating the personal status law 188 within the project of the National Reconciliation.
  4. Confirming upon adopting the Iraqi constitution a statement about obligation with international treaties of human rights in general and women’s rights in particular.
  5. Review some of the constitution items and make the necessary amendment on the articles that encourage the sectarianism.
  6. Trying to make speedy steps to solve the problem of the small armed groups and activating the government role to implement the law concerned this issue.
  7. Trying to stop the sectarianism immigrations phenomena by creating a mechanism to return these families to their homes.
  8. Raising the forgiveness and dialogue culture through media and civil society organizations.
  9. Confirm creation of mechanisms of cooperation among active civil society organizations and the Ministry of Education in order to implement a work program about the National Reconciliation.