A three-day workshop has concluded in Baghdad, which considered ways how to ensure the meaningful engagement of Iraqi women in elections.
The workshop on gender-responsive electoral processes, jointly organized by the Independent High Elections Commissions (IHEC) and UNAMI in collaboration with UNDP, was held within the context of UNAMI’s mandate to assist and advise IHEC on preparations for the 2020 local elections in Iraq.
The workshop looked at the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) and subsequent resolutions on promoting women’s full and active participation in political and electoral processes.
UNAMI Director of Electoral Assistance and Principal Electoral Advisor, Aamir Arain, urged the IHEC to strengthen the capacity of its gender team and formulate a gender policy.
“Promoting an enabling environment that allows women to fully and actively participate in electoral processes is an important step towards ensuring women exercise their right to vote and contributes to stability and democracy,” Mr. Arain said.
The discussions highlighted challenges facing female candidates, including sexual harassment, poor media coverage, insufficient campaign funds, limited support from political parties, and social discrimination due to negative patriarchal attitudes.
It underlined the importance of the quota system to guarantee women’s representation, and the need for specific security measures and awareness to enable women to vote safely and freely, and a code of conduct to promote integrity in the overall electoral process.
Two former MPs who are members of the Women Advisory Group (WAG) shared their experiences as candidates in previous national legislative elections. Another WAG member described her previous work as a national elections observer.
The group was launched early 2019 to advocate for better representation of women in reconciliation and political processes amongst other concerns.