According to the Human Rights Watch when the Ba’ath party came into power in they were faced with labor shortages without the involvement of women growth would have been impossible. The public lives of women improved dramatically with the passage of The Iraqi Provisional Constitution granting women equal rights, protecting their right to vote, run for office, own property, and attend school. The Iraq government created the General Federation of Iraqi Women, a political arm of the Ba’ath party which implemented state policy, job training, educational programs, and additional social programs. There was resistance to these policies, but seeing as everyone benefited and it was the government hiring these women it was quickly adopted by the majority. (Human Rights Watch).
Iraqi women, but Iraqi people were starting to look in step with the rest of the western world. Economic growth provides breathing space when it comes to change. Once Iraq was pinched by the United Nations and the United States after the Gulf War these policies declined sharply. When the State was faced with economic sanctions Saddam embraced Islamic law to hold the state together. Unable to provide jobs for everyone women were of course the first to go. Parents could no longer send their female children to school and opted to focus their attention on the males in the family (Human Rights Watch).
Now with some historical context in mind we can see that in a very short time how equality can slip away from you. Thus we do not have women fighting against inequality, but women fighting for the equality they already had. In a matter of fourteen years these women have seen their conditions completely reverse. I am not even sure if it is far to call this a resistance movement, at best I would call it logical anger, or pissed all to hell. They aren’t fighting for lofty goals or idealized dreams, these women do not want to die, be burned, or be raped.
The headlining group in this movement is The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), the Organization is made up of smaller groups that existed before the invasion. The group has several leaders in spread out all over the world and they are under constant threat from Islamic extremists. Houzan Mahmoud, is the United Kingdom head of the Organization and the founder of the Iraq Freedom Congress. She seems to be the most outspoken and I assume it is her mobility that helps that. Being in the United Kingdom affords more opportunities than being in Iraq. Yanar Mohammed Director of the Organization in Iraq and Editor in Chief of the newspaper Al-Mousawat which stands for “Equality.” These are the two central figures in the fight against oppression (Mahmoud, Mohammed).
The group came together in 2003 in light of losing nearly everything because of internal factors and external factors. Inside of Iraq the war caused a power vacuum giving religious mobs legitimacy in the eyes of the occupiers making them political parties. With no infrastructure and an already steep decline in equality needless to say these women were boned from the start. Externally the United States and coalition forces promised democracy and freedom, the reality is women cannot go outside with being veiled, that is of course if the males in their family even allow such activity (V-Day: Background of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq).
The Organization provides a three pronged attack: community centers focused on education and job training, media and communication programs, and shelters (V-day: Background of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq). The group is continuing along the lines of the state sponsored General Federation of Iraqi Women, although they chose not to connect themselves with the former or current Iraq government they parallels are there.
The occupation forces are detrimental to the women’s movement. The occupational forces are not meant to defend equality but try to retain some semblance of peace. Rocking the boat when it comes to women’s rights would make their hard job even harder, so they avoid this conflict by letting traditional Islamic customs take over. These customs are a slap in the face of the liberated and educated women of Iraq. “Heeding conservative religious protests, US military indefinitely postponed the swearing-in of the first woman in Najaf to be appointed a judge. (Osaman)”
The current Iraqi government is made up of those religious mobs I spoke of earlier and without international support they will continue to act unabated. The OWFI has support networks in Canada, England and Australia. They receive international aide through their website and speaking out on behalf of women in Iraq. Unless they can get a secular constitution and government I do not see this fight ending for these women.
The outcome of this is still undecided while Iraq rebuilds, the U.S. Forces still occupy, and the government tries to get on its feet women are being left behind. As they were last hired first fired like minorities of America’s past/present little opportunity is afforded to them. Unless a secular constitution is passed they will become second class citizens not in keeping with the rest of the world, but digressing 30 years of progress in the name of democracy.
In both Chua and Stiglitz I do not see any of the affects of war on globalization. Iraq was doing well in the changing global market until the Gulf War. Afterwards it was faced with economic sanctions that not only reversed all the economic progress it also reversed the social progress. It makes one wonder if there is a direct link between. The two. Chua’s focus while broad in the sense of ethic conflict in globalization is far to narrow in its study of non diverse places. Also the lack of consideration on women in the under globalization: nannies, maids, sex workers, bondage, slaves, and exported by their governments because they will send money home. While little of this happens in Iraq on either front her book is lacks the focus needed. Ethnic conflict is not the driving factor in the Iraqi Women’s Movement. My analysis does not apply to this case study because they are topics under the same heading, but not in the same field.
Stiglitz sees globalization as this two sided coin that has done vast good, and vast bad. He does not see to think that the good could possibly be a direct result of the bad. A good example is slavery they helped to create a new standard of living, the bad side is…oh yeah SLAVERY. He does not see our exploitation of the world as a means for only us to gain. While he asks who speaks for these organizations is a good question and it works not only in the context of the WTO, IMF, and world bank it can also be used for the Iraqi government. If anything the new Iraqi government speaks for us more than it does for itself. Maybe not directly, but it reflects our value system. The United States is exporting democracy…but the original model we had.
Works Cited Page
Osaman, Hibaaq. “V- Day Spotlight 2005: Women Of Iraq, Under Siege.” V-Day. October 2003. 06 Nov 2005.
“Background of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq.” V-Day. 2005. 06 Nov 2005.
“Background on Women’s Status in Iraq Prior to the Fall of the Saddam Hussein Government.” Human Rights Watch. Nov 2003. 06 Nov 2005.
Mahmoud, Houzan, and Mohammed, Yanar. “The Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq Homepage.” The Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. 06 Nov 2005.