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As Iraq prepares to hold new parliamentary elections amid continuing controversy over the eligibility of many candidates, Amnesty International is appealing to the country's political leaders to ensure that both the election campaign and the vote on 7 March are conducted peacefully and fully conform with Iraq's obligations under international human rights law.
Sam Cook & Felicity Hill
Sam CookTHIS ISSUE FEATURES:
1. CELEBRATING THE 1ST ANNIVERSARY OF 1325 PEACEWOMEN E-NEWSThis edition of the 1325 PeaceWomen E-News Features:
1. WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY NEWS
IRAQ CONSTITUTION ‘BIG DISAPPOINTMENT' FOR WOMEN
1. COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN 48TH SESSION: UPDATE
March 1-12, 2004, United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA
Important dates and times:
Wednesday, 31 December 2003:
Last day for CSW registration for ECOSOC-accredited NGOs. To register your organization, visit: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/csw48/register/
In a small room in Benghazi some young men and women are putting out a new opposition newspaper. "The role of the female in Libya," reads one headline. "She is the Muslim, the mother, the soldier, the protester, the journalist, the volunteer, the citizen", it adds.
The new Iraqi government, which received a vote of confidence from parliament on Tuesday, is almost exclusively male, with the exception of a lone woman who is a minister without portfolio.
Bushra Hussein Saleh is a deputy from Fadhila, a small Shiite fundamentalist party that is a member of the National Alliance grouping of Shiite parties.
When Iraq finally forms a new government, one thing is certain -- there will be many new faces. Only 62 of 275 incumbents were re-elected.
In particular, some of the new faces will be women. By law, 25 percent of the parliament must be female. In some cases, that means replacing men who would have won seats -- which isn't always welcome news to the men.
Iraqi women have been angered by the new government formation in their country, which sorely lacks female representation, wrote Meead al Taei in an opinion piece for the pan-Arab daily Asharq al Awsat.
Iraq's female parliamentarians refused to control the single ministry they were offered so far in the hope of leading some of the more important ministries.
For women in Iraq, the coming national elections offer both a promise and a reminder of the difficulty of change in this male-dominated culture.
Lebanese-born photographer Rania Matar, who currently lives in the United States, frequently travels back to her native country. On her last trip home in 2007, she documented the changing and striking ways in which Lebanese Muslim women are engaging in politics.
Prior to the US-led invasion of Iraq, women working in the public and government sectors were entitled to receive a year's maternity leave under family laws enforced by the former Saddam Hussein leadership.
In the seven years since the US-led invasion which ousted Saddam, however, maternity leave has been cut to six months.
Another political event takes place in Iraq without much mention of women. And in the rare occasion that women are mentioned, it is often with the token spirit about how wonderful it is that they now have 25 percent of political seats in the Iraqi parliament.