President Barzani reiterates commitment to women's rights in Kurdistan

President Barzani reiterates commitment to women's rights in Kurdistan

Shafaq News/ President Nechirvan Barzani reaffirmed the Kurdistan region's commitment to women's rights and equality in an address to the Kurdistan Women's Union (KWU) on Saturday.

"I stand firmly with Kurdish women in their fight for a life free from discrimination and for equal opportunities in every sphere of society," Barzani said in a letter to the assembly.

He commended the KWU's decades-long efforts to combat gender-based violence, empower women economically, and secure their rightful place in Kurdistan's political and social landscape.

While acknowledging progress, Barzani stressed the need to address persistent challenges, including violence, limited access to education and healthcare, and social barriers to women's professional advancement.

Following the overthrow of monarchy in 1958, the Union of Kurdish Women lobbied for legal reform in the Iraqi civil law and it succeeded in bringing marriage under civil control and abolishing honor killing.

Honor killings is serious problem in the country until the government illegalized it. The first female judge in Middle East was a Kurdish woman named Zakiyya Hakki who was appointed by Abd al-Karim Qasim. She later became part of the leadership of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

After the establishment of Kurdistan Regional Government, women were able to form their own organizations and several women became ministers in the cabinet of local government. In September 2003, Nasrin Berwari was appointed to the 25-member Iraq provisional cabinet as minister of municipalities and public works, and in June 2004, she was among six women named to the 30-member transitional cabinet and in April 2005 was named permanently to that post.

Despite the progress, Kurdish and international women's rights organizations still report problems related to gender equality, forced marriages, honor killings, and female genital mutilation (FGM) in Iraqi Kurdistan. Different organizations have described the situation differently, sometimes giving conflicting statements.

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