Copyright © 2008 All Rights Reserved. Al-Hakim Foundation.
WOMEN AND DISARMAMENT
Women often have distinct experiences of conflict, and strategies to build peace—including
disarmament policies—should reflect this. In this panel discussion, we seek to highlight the
importance of including women and their concerns in peace processes, and how this can
contribute to sustainable and durable peace. Panelists will describe their own on-the-ground
experiences with conflict, weapons, and disarmament initiatives.
MS. REBECCA PETERS, Director of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA)
MS. LAYLA ALKHAFAJI, Al-Hakim Foundation (Iraq)
MS. ANNIE MATUNDU-MBAMBI, Women’s Int’l League for Peace & Freedom (DRC)
MS. MARIA PIA DEVOTO, Asociación para Políticas Públicas (Argentina)
By: Layla Alkhafaji
Women and men experience conflict situations in very different ways. The options and resources women and men have during
wartime or conflict are very different. Men are often the primary combatants (either voluntarily or forced). Women’s experiences may
center on ensuring survival for other family members. Therefore, their needs and the resources they can draw on in post-conflict
situations tend to be different.
Also it is widely recognized that women and young people are primary victims of conflict. As the survivors of violent conflict, women
also bear the burden of reconstruction. They return to destroyed communities and begin the process of rebuilding infrastructure;
restoring and developing traditions, laws, and customs; and repairing relationships.
Generally the Iraqi woman has suffered from violence more than any other woman
• Suffering the years of wars and their disasters (Iraq Iran war and the first and second Gulf Wars.
• The execution and imprisonment campaigns which included women and what accompanied them of torture due to the refusal
and opposing the previous regime.
• Suffering years of the sanctions which consumed the Iraqi woman and she is bearing the economical concern of the family
and endeavouring effortlessly to provide the living, effect of the intellectual embargo then the terrorism which spread after the fall of
the regime and affected women severely.
How violence affected Iraqi women:
The Iraqi society is unique in the phenomenon of violence which cast its shadows on the life Iraqi society after the fall of the
dictatorship regime and affected the woman at many levels.
1- The Bombed Cars and Explosives Devices which carried by terrorists supported by the baathiest saddamist.
These acts affected women life:
A- The woman is the victim either killed or remains inflicted in one of the handicaps which disables her from practicing her normal
life in addition to the psychological effects resulting from the handicap and what is incurred on them of social effects where she can
not work to support her self if she has no supporter and in some cases she is deprived of being a wife or a mother because of the
handicap resulted from the explosion. 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.
B- The woman may lose as a result of the explosion, the husband, father or brother and generally the supporter and in this case the
economical burden of the family rests on the shoulders of the woman especially if she was a mother which forces her to be
responsible for the family and takes the role of the woman and the man and the case in Iraq is a tragic where the number of widows
are in millions and the number of orphans exceeds twice the number of widows. Leaving the woman a widow suffering from poverty
and the responsibility of managing the family alone.
National policy have to be put in action to deal with this phenomena. Social welfare is not enough.
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.
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.
A- Political: Where subjected to kidnapping and torture persons (men and women). This affected women who joined in the
political process as well, where most women in parliament and the governorates councils were subjected to threat in liquidation for
them, their children and families because of adopting certain positions. Akeela Alhashimi killed and Iman jabor kidnapped – I am
B- (Economical): Many of the rich were subjected to kidnapping and torture with the aim of blackmailing their families demanding
large amounts of money and often the money is taken and the kidnapped is killed and men, women and children were subjected to
D- Sectarian and Ethnic: Where many of the individuals of sects were subjected to kidnapping and torture”
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.
For example, Iraq's parliament created a solution to the problem of thousands of students 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.
Female suicide bombers
Other type of violence against women is the use of females as suicide bombers by the terrorist groups mostly Alqaida
Nearly 50 women have conducted suicide attacks in Iraq since 2003, The most recent once is carried by female bombers at shia
pilgrims to karbala killed 35 and injured more than 50 mostly women and children. After 2007, Suicide attacks in Iraq are
increasingly conducted by women, who can hide the bombs under robes and can take advantage of less-stringent security
protocols for women at checkpoints , they are rarely subjected to body searches, because it is considered improper in Muslim
culture for a male to scrutinize (much less pat down) a woman. Terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda in Iraq are now exploiting this fact
to avoid security measures. .
So It is tactical allure and strategic context, not psychology or culture, that best explains the rise in Iraqi women bombers.
Now what is the Motivation to these Female Bombers:-
The motivations of suicide attackers in general are not well understood, what prompts women to strap on explosives and target
crowds,. Some reports indicate that certain women are motivated by revenge for male relatives or spouses killed in the continuing
violence, while other subjective evidence suggests that others are unwittingly used to transport explosives that are remotely
detonated. Some of these women confessed after they been arrested before they blast themselves that they were brainwashed by
male relatives to carry these attacks to follow their lost beloved once to heaven.
Mentally impaired women were also been used as suicide attackers, killing 73 in Baghdad in one of the incident.
This phenomenon bring the attention to the Increase Need to the recruitment of women as security searchers, and civilian police -
Iraqi security forces already started recruiting women and deployed hundreds of female searchers and policewomen to help
preventing this kind of attacks.
Support the adoption of a quota system to guarantee women's political participation in post conflict transitions. In decision-making
positions following war or conflict, 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.
Quotas can have the single greatest effect on the constitutional process, the election of local and national legislative bodies, and
institutional reform” Women presents more than 25 percent of the parliament and in the new provincial election it is guaranteed to
keep the quotas even if men got more votes than women through supportive mechanisms for women, and provide training to build
women's capacity, allowing them to play significant roles in defining the future of the country.
Despite rapid progress within the iraqi government to recognize the importance of women's inclusion in stabilization and
reconstruction operations, but still so much needed, As the challenge for the Role of Women in post conflict Stabilization and
Reconstruction Operations is to highlight several critical areas with the potential to significantly impact the protection and
participations of women and to put strategic plans to pay greater attention to specific women needs and concerns.
Three important factors must be put in consideration when talking about Role of women in post conflict process are:
• Alleviate the burden of poverty on women, which represents the (economic dimension)
• Access to decision-making and political participation which is a (political dimension). Iraqi women have made a leap
• legislation, customs and traditions that promote their rights, which is a (social dimension), with an emphasis on cultural
specificity into account.