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beginning with the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and are in desperate need of medical care.54

Some analysts have observed that recent terrorist attacks have focused on civilian targets, making civilian employees working on the reconstruction effort for the CPA or NGOs targets for violence or kidnaping. Despite this trend, according to USAID and NGOs, several reconstruction programs are still fully operational and continue to serve the needs of many Iraqis, including women and children. In some cases, while foreign NGO workers may have left Iraq, the NGO offices themselves have continued to operate with the help of newly-trained Iraqi staffers.

Women and the Transition to Iraqi Rule

The handover of government Administration and is scheduled

to to

Iraqis has been

promised

by the

Bush

take place on

June 30,

2004.

The

Administration’s plans to handover sovereignty would place strict limits on the new

Iraqi

government,

“including

only

partial

command

over

its

armed

forces

and

no

authority to enact to proponents of

new laws.”55 In the long run, however, women’s rights is whether any future

what Iraqi

is of major concern government would

maintain

or

enforce

those

constitutional

provisions

that

support

the

rights

of

Iraqi

women.

It appears that the biggest challenge to Iraqi women in the upcoming months

will be seeking to voice their opinions already struggled to gain a voice within a men.

in a future government, when they have U.S.-appointed government dominated by

Some regard the exclusion of Iraqi women in the writing of the TAL as a worrisome sign for the future, raising the question of whether women will be involved in the writing of a new constitution. Other questions have been raised about the enforcement of current and future laws that provide equality for women. Even if a future Iraqi constitution contains progressive provisions for women’s rights, some analysts are concerned that, “in fact a number of Arab states actually have similar constitutional rights. The problem comes -as is the case in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere-not so much in the written law as in its implementation.”56 The issue of preparing Iraqi women for future elections and for helping them attain the targeted goal of 25% of the seats in a new National Assembly is of immediate relevance, as is the question of how women’s rights will be affected if religious conservatives are given greater voice in a new Iraqi government. Moreover, some proponents have argued that in order to ensure that women are well-integrated in the nation-building

54 “Women afraid to seek healthcare in south,”Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), April 5, 2004.

55 Steven R. Weisman, “White House Says Iraq Sovereignty Could be Limited,” Washington Post, April 23, 2004.

56 Phyllis Bennis, “Talking Points: The Iraqi Constitution,” March 16, 2004, Institute for Policy Studies, [http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/election/2004/0316talking points.htm].

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