Competition, Cooperation and Resistance: Women in the Political Field in Iraq

Authored by: Andrea Fischer-Tahir

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation, Political Transitions
Country: Iraq
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2010
Citation: Fischer-Tahir, Andrea. "Competition, Cooperation and Resistance: Women in the Political Field in Iraq." International Affairs 86, no. 6 (2010): 1381-1394.

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After the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April 2003 many women supported the process of transition and became active in political parties and coalitions. A wide range of groups were also formed which pursued women's rights agendas and, in many cases, included a call for peace and reconciliation and charity activities for women and children. However, female political action and the field of women's rights remain divided by the same multiple boundaries of belonging which affect Iraqi society itself; women operate in specific ethnic and denominational, local and regional settings, and they support nationalist, secularist, left-wing or Islamist agendas.This article draws attention to the key issues which are discussed, in particular, by secular feminists in Iraq. Female political activists are still faced with old and new social, cultural, legal and political obstacles. The article argues that when women support narratives that leave men's superiority untouched, they are not simply victims of men or 'false consciousness'; women either compete and cooperate, or they reject ideological narratives and power relations, while pursuing agendas of individual interest.