them,” adding that teaching women their rights under Islam would help end injustices against them.49
Some recent studies have shown that there is some degree of indigenous resistance to women’s involvement in governance or to women having equal rights, particularly in the more traditional and Shiite-dominated region of southern Iraq. One study of southern Iraq indicated that most Iraqi men and women do not give full support for women’s civil and political rights, “including freedom to move about in public and to participate in government.”50 The study mentions that “lack of support for such rights for women may be related to implementation considerations, such as inadequate numbers of teachers, employment opportunities, and safetyissues, among others.”51 This may not reflect the opinion of Iraqis towards women in other regions of Iraq. Women in the northern Kurdish region, as discussed above, have experienced greater freedom and more opportunities for political involvement in the past several years. The attitude of Iraqis towards women in larger urban centers, such as Baghdad, has yet to be investigated and might also reflect a range of opinions on women’s rights.
Threats to Reconstruction Programs
It is difficult to generalize about the status of the reconstruction programs in Iraq, because the country’s political and social landscape is diverse. However, some assessments of U.S. reconstruction programs have called into question the extent to which CPA and USAID programs have been effective in improving the lives of Iraqi women, especially considering the uncertain security situation. One recent survey by Christian Aid, a UK and Ireland-based charity, indicated that poverty in Iraq, particularly among women and children, has been exacerbated by “insecurity, crime, economic uncertainty, unemployment, inadequate public services and poor housing.”52 The survey states that in parts of Baghdad, “children’s education is being severelydisrupted. Almost two-thirds of school-age children in the families surveyed were not attending school full time. The reasons given included poor standards of education, dilapidated school buildings and children forced to work to boost family income.”53 A poll conducted by the Institute for Civil Society Studies, an Iraqi NGO, indicated that serious security concerns have hindered women’s access to healthcare facilities. The problem is especially visible in southern Iraq, in the Shiite-majority city of Basra, where many women have suffered from the long-term effects of war,
Annia Ciezadlo, “A Religious Awakening,” Newsday, February 19, 2004.
50 Lynn Amowitz, et. al., “Human Rights Abuses and Concerns About Women’s Health and Human Rights in Southern Iraq,” Journal of the American Medical Association 291 (2004): 1477.
“Life ‘worse’ for many of Iraq’s poor, survey reveals,” Christian Aid, April 16, 2004, [http://wwww.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf/s/2560AADBF2607EEFC1256E7C00317D2E]