Copyright © 2008 All Rights Reserved. Al-Hakim Foundation.   

Dr. Nidhal Almarashi

Jane Durgom-Powers ……..IFFAMPAC
Ms. Layla Alkhafaji ………..…Al Hakim Foundation
Dr. Bayan Alaraji …………..…Al Hakim Foundation
Dorothy Ettling ……...Women’s Global Connection
Mr. Kyoichi Sugine ………….....Religions for Peace
Women in Society: Economic Rights

By: Layla Alkhafaji
Women were given rights in the Quran to contribute to the economy by owning and selling property 1400 years ago. Verse 4:32
emphasizes the equality of men and women in the economical growth of a society.
Men shall have a benefit from what they earn, and women shall have a benefit from what they earn. (4:32)
This verse, aside from giving women the right to earn, supports the economic theory of "equal pay for equal work.'' The core of this
theory is that women and men should be compensated by the work they perform regardless of gender. The Quran addresses this
issue by referring to both genders and stating that each be compensated by their work. If it was intended that women receive less
than men it would have been explicit..

BUT, What about the reality in our world?

In a recent study Working Women magazine reported that although women's salaries in the United States are starting to catch up
with men's in recent years, still women earn 5 to 15 cents less on the dollar than men working in a similar job.1
the rights that are given to women in the Quran are not theoretical without any application. Historically, the Quraish women such as
Khadija bint Khuwaylid and Sawdah bint Zam'ah (wives of Prophet Muhammad) are examples of women who were mothers and
nurturers as well as active participants in the economy of their society.
Khadija was business women whose wealth and business property gave the Prophet ease of circumstances and freedom from the
cares of daily life to accomplish his mission.15Similarly, Sawdah derived her income from her leather work industry.  None of the
Prophet's wives inherited anything from him so they were cared for by the state or they derived their own income.17The examples of
Khadija and Sawdah are important because they shed light on women's active participation in the economy during the Prophet's era.

What about the participation now a day ?

The fact that the development and empowerment of women linked to the achievement of significant economic stability, and to
achieve that it is very important that women present in the political and economic decision circle. The United Nations has worked
and contributed their efforts to the presence of women in the political sphere through many means, including the quota system and
there is a need to work and support the women to be on the center of the economic sphere as well.

Now Iraqi women achieved a lot after the fall of the regime especially after long years of oppression, sanction, and 2 wars.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Iraq, Staffan Dmistora, on the occasion of International
Women's Day in Baghdad on Sunday 8th of march 2009, said that "Iraqi women have achieved significant progress in the way of
emphasis on their rights to political representation in the provincial elections which took place in the end of last January.

In New Iraq today the adoption of quota system has guaranteed women political participation in post conflict transitions. Iraqi
Women presents more than 25 percent of the parliament; we hold almost 75 seats out of total of 275.  And in the last provincial
election at Jan 31st it is guaranteed to keep the quotas even if men got more votes than women through supportive mechanisms for
women, allowing them to play significant roles in defining the future of the country.  

Research shows that women are leading efforts to promote good governance by fighting corruption, demanding accountability, and
maintaining transparency in activities at national and local levels. This is proved to be true not false in Iraq.
Iraqi women have proven the ability to monitor files on public funds through their presence on the Finance Committee in the House
of Representatives and the Ministry of Finance as deputy of the Inspector General at the Ministry. They recently play key role in the
parliament to lobby against specific allocation for some of the funds in the budget which cause to reduce or cancel these funds
totally from the national budget.

It is very clear stated  In Iraqi Constitution –about the civil and political rights in Chapter One – Article 14:

Article 14:
Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, origin, color, religion, sect, belief
or opinion, or economic or social status.
Saying that open windows of hope for Iraqi women who suffer a lot – but how and what mechanism is needed?
We have crisis in Iraq s, ome inherited from the previous regime and others due  to the violence and terrorist attacks after the fall of
the regime. This affected women!

What is a government budget?

The budget reflects the choices that government has to make, and is the tool it uses to achieve its economic and development
goals. The government has to balance a wide range of legitimate demands with limited resources at its disposal. In the budget
government sets out what it is going to spend (expenditure) and the income it collects through taxes (revenue), which it needs to
finance expenditure.
Here it come the importance of the women voice and inputs if we really work for the empowerment and development of women.
The need for the presence of women in the economic decision making stemmed from the women's knowledge of other more
essential needs of women and the areas that must be focused on in order to improve the status of women in Iraq. Thus, it will have
after coordination with the concerned authorities and relevant ministries in the allocation of funds in the budget for programs that
are adopted. Also the presence of women in the economic decision-making is vital to allocate funds to support programs for
women away from political influences, but is measured in accordance with strategic plans and programs targeted specific areas of
women needs, not randomly in keeping with the instant interests of the political entity.

This will be more critical when dealing with situation like about women in Iraq.
How violence affected Iraqi women:

-During Saddam regime
The unjust and arbitrary policy of the Saddam regime has deprived a large number of Iraqis, including women from completing their
studies due to exposure to the arrest and imprisonment, or leaving the study for fear that their rejection join the Baath party would  
subject them to witch-hunting or to imprisonment.

These were desperate to return to school after the fall of the regime but the – obstacle were the system which not allow them due to
their age.
Iraq's parliament created a solution to the problem of thousands of students including women, who have been deprived of the
completion of their studies because they were imprisoned by Saddam's regime and not able to complete their study after their
release from prison as the regime did not allow them – the legislation exempts these people of the conditions of age and so had
the opportunity to complete their education.

Lead of lobbying for this bill were women from beginning to the end -
Most of the beneficiaries of this legislations are women on their mid 40s plus. I know many of my prison mat who benefit from this
and finished their study in engineering, political and being hired now and integrated into the community.

How violence and terriorist act affected women life:
Violence of explosions and other terrorist act affected Iraqi women in many ways:
Killing, widowhood, displacement, and forced discontinuity on education and the prevalence of illiteracy among women.
According to the latest statistics, there are at least (two million widow, and may be more than that of orphans -  this considered a
crisis without a governmental institutions dealing with these important groups, and marginalized.

In this matter compensation should be considered to help these women – Recently Legislation has been passed in the Iraqi
parliament which compensates the victim of terrorist action including women.

In the parliament and through the women and child committee lobbied to pass resolution to assign small fixed amount of money for
widows.  It is step forward but not enough if we are talking about empowering and improving the women situation.

And National policies have to be put in action to deal with these phenomena because Social welfare is not enough.

Recently – New department was introduced in the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs to deal with Iraqi women widows and divorcee.
In parallel with the above steps Lobbying for increase budgeting to cover program designed to address women issues is important”

Other example:

To encourage the private sector and the opening of new jobs, Iraqi Government has developed a plan to grant loans to small
enterprises, but women were and still the least beneficiaries of such a opportunities because the lack of such experience – So as
part of post conflict process special program or training needed for women to upgrade their skills to get benefit of such plans.  And
here is another example of the need of women presence at the financing committees to lobby for funding program related to women

2-  The Kidnapping:

In addition to the tragedies of explosions which reap the souls of tens each time and leave hundreds of handicapped, Kidnapping
appeared in the Iraqi society in the wake of the absence of law police forces and the weak control of the state, the gangs of
organized crime commit the kidnapping for many motives. Either political or economical.
And of the reflections of the matter of kidnapping many families were forced withdraw their daughters, sisters, wives from going to
schools and work to protect them from danger.
Many girls after the stabilization are willing to go back to school but our education system does not have the facility to fit them back in
the existing public school. Educational system not designed to integrated such cases – Here also lobbying to fund such program is

Steps need  to be taken:

•To strengthen lobbying and advocacy skills for women.
•To effectively campaign for women’s rights especially in relation to more resource allocation and women’s participation in         
policy-making and public resource management structures.
•To examine the budgeting process and budgeting allocation in selected strategic ministries starting with that of Health and
Education and how they impact on women and, later going to other sectors of concern.
•To organize and carry out a lobbying campaign to influence technocrats and Legislatures to increase budget allocations to sectors
which are sensitive to women And other disadvantaged people.
•To provide popular information and an advocacy campaign to influence the public To be informed about the budgetary process and
allocations and its consequences on community development.
•To involve the NGO community to stand together for the common cause to lobby and submit proposals to fund specific program for
women as these needs more visible for these NGO.
•To devote maximum efforts to provide material and moral aid to women in Iraq through the vital, real and effective plans.
•Lobbying for setting up a fund for the care of women and children, with a fixed income, to the fact that women and children are the
groups most affected by acts of violence.