Photo: Karin Råghall / Kvinna till Kvinna

Kvinna till Kvinna in Iraq

Kvinna till Kvinna has supported women’s rights in Iraq since 2005. In recent years, Iraqi society has become increasingly insecure, with conservatism on the rise. This has greatly reduced women’s freedom. While equality is enshrined in Iraq’s constitution, discriminatory laws still condone harmful practices. In the face of this, our partners tirelessly advocate for women’s rights, with a special focus on vulnerable minorities.

Why we work in Iraq

After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraqi society became increasingly unstable. This fueled a rise in conservatism, restricting women’s freedom.

In principle, Iraqi laws protect women. The constitution views men and women as equal, and a secular law ensures civil statute disputes are dealt with non-religiously. A few years ago, a law was adopted against trafficking.

But legal protection only goes so far. There have been calls to replace the secular civil statute law: if passed, practices such as child marriage would become legal. There is no legal protection against marital rape and “punishment” of wives.

The situation is somewhat better in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, which prohibits genital mutilation, forced marriage and domestic violence. In practice though, domestic violence and child marriage remain common.

Since 2003, Iraq’s political situation has remained insecure. Fundamentalist Islamists have gained influence. After being occupied by Islamic State (IS), certain areas are still in the grip of extremist thinking: defending women’s rights there is more important than ever.

Ethnic and religious minorities face particular discrimination. Many Yazidi women, for example, were sexually abused by IS. Today they often live in refugee camps, with little support.

Demonstrations in Bagdad against the Iraqi government in the summer of 2015, calling for a reform of the judiciary and less corruption. Photo: Iraqi Women's League
Demonstrations in Bagdad against the Iraqi government in the summer of 2015, calling for a reform of the judiciary and less corruption. Photo: Iraqi Women's League

How we support women in Iraq

Together with our partner organisations in Iraq, we:

  • support IDPs, including women who fled from IS violence
  • combat gender-based violence and offer legal/psychosocial aid
  • support women from ethnic and religious minorities
  • train police officers and lawyers to protect women and persecute perpetrators
  • advocate for improved legal protection of women’s rights
  • promote the political participation of women
  • monitor Iraq’s adherence to / action on UNSC Res. 1325 and CEDAW
  • strengthen women’s economic position

Successful defence of girls' rights

In 2017, Iraq’s parliament discussed the so-called Jafaari law, that would allow men to marry girls as young as nine and make men the guardian of their wives. The Iraqi women’s movement instantly reacted and prevented the law from being adopted.

Photo: Christopher Herwig

Photo: Karin Råghall / Kvinna till Kvinna

Our partner organisations in Iraq

  • Hawa Organization for Relief and Development
  • Iraqi Women’s League
  • Iraqi Organization for Woman and Future
  • Pena Centre for Combatting Violence Against Women

Kvinna till Kvinna has an office in Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

News from our partners in Iraq