Yesterday was International Women's Day and it has not been a good year for the women of Iraq. As Dahr Jamail noted this week:
Iraq, where women once had more rights and freedom than most others in the Arab world, has turned deadly for women who dream of education and a professional career.
Stronger Women, Stronger Nations: 2008 Iraq Report, a new report from Women to Women, provides the most detailed information on this "deadly" reality. You can download and read the full report here. (h/t GorillasGuides )
Here is also a powerful six minute video on life for women in Iraq:
A review of the findings of the report:
Hope for the Future
• 85.0% of respondents described the situation in Iraq as bad or very bad, and 88.8% expressed a great deal of concern that they or someone living in their households would become a victim of violence.
• Only 26.9% of respondents expressed optimism for the future, saying they thought the overall situation would get better in the year ahead. While there continue to be pockets of optimism throughout the country, and the overall situation may be on a slow ascent, the situation remains volatile, and the long-term sustainability of any improvements still remains to be seen.
• 71.2% of respondents said they do not feel protected by U.S./U.K. soldiers and 65.3% ofrespondents said that, overall, the presence of U.S./U.K. security forces in Iraq ismaking security in the country worse.
• 67.9% of respondents stated that their ability to walk down the street as they please has gotten worse since the U.S. invasion.
Violence Against Women
• 63.9% of respondents stated that violence against women is increasing. When asked why,respondents most commonly said that there is less respect for women’s rights than before,that women are thought of as possessions, and that the economy has gotten worse.
Economy and Infrastructure
• 68.3% of respondents describe the availability of jobs as bad and 70.5% said that their families are unable to earn enough money to pay for daily necessities.
• 76.2% of respondents said that girls in their families are not allowed to attend school, and 56.7% said that girls’ ability to attend school has gotten worse since the U.S. invasion.
• 70.2% of respondents thought that the citizens of Iraq have not been given a chance to contribute their input on the future of Iraq, and 52.0% did not know if Iraqis had the right to participate in the political process.
• 43.6% of respondents did not think that the circumstances of women were being considered by those making decisions about Iraq’s future. However, in the Central Iraq cities of Fallujah, Samarra and Rawa, the number jumps to 75.1% of respondents saying they did not think women’s circumstances were being considered.
• 72.7% of respondents said that in the future there should be one unified Iraq with a central government in Baghdad, and 88.6% of women thought that the separation of people along ethnic/religious/sectarian lines was a bad thing. However, only 32.3% of respondents thought there would in fact be one unified Iraq with a central government in Baghdad in five years. This is another indication that women do not feel as though their opinions are being considered in decisions about their country’s future.