The Iraq Foundation is an independent nongovernmental organization working in Iraq since 2003. With support from the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) and technical assistance from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the Iraq Foundation is conducting a project to strengthen women’s participation in political life at the national and subnational levels, and to strengthen the capacity of women seeking public office. The project comprises two phases. The first phase, which ran from 1 October 2019 to 15 February 2020, conducted needs assessments and research aimed at documenting and understanding the challenges and unmet needs of women who run for elected public office. This information will serve as a foundation for strategies and action plans to provide women with training and tools to successfully run for elected office. Five governorates were examined in the first phase, namely Baghdad, Basra, Nenawa, Najaf and Salaheddin. They were selected because they provide a representative diversity in terms of social and political environments. Salaheddin and Nenawa are provinces in the areas liberated from Islamic State; Najaf is a province strongly influenced by the religious establishment; Basra is a southern province that has recently faced unrest and public dissatisfaction; and Baghdad represents the widest spectrum of social, cultural and economic diversity.
The research is based on the principles
of participation, inclusiveness and gender
sensitivity. The research adopted a mixed
methods approach, including the collection
and consolidation of qualitative and resulting
quantitative data. While the qualitative
approach investigated the perceptions
and experiences of the interviewee’s, the
quantitative approach focused on the
numerical data derived from the rankings.
All the findings from the desk review and
from individual and group discussions were
triangulated for consistency and validity.
The present section sets out the findings
of the focus group discussions held in the
five governorates. The discussions revolved
around society’s perspective on the role
of female candidates from several angles.
The discussions were attended by various
categories of participants: male and female
media representatives of the media, academia,
politics, religious groups, and governmental
and non-governmental organizations.
The present section moves from the wider
perspective of society to the meso level,
namely the level of the group of women
candidates and their involvement in society.
It considers the challenges identified in
the research framework, and presents the
findings of the assessment of the challenges
experienced by women, their unmet needs, and
mechanisms they suggested for overcoming
these challenges. For each challenge, women’s
experiences and mechanisms adopted or
suggested are cited, followed by the views
expressed in the focus group discussions.
Adopting the triangulation approach, the
present section reveals the close similarity
of the data from the two levels, the macro
and the meso, or the close similarity between
the challenges as actually faced by women
candidates and those perceived by the focus
group participants, thus confirming the validity
of the findings.
The present section presents useful
experiences and success stories of women
who managed to overcome some of the
barriers mentioned in the analysis. It starts by
presenting several important lessons learned,
and then proceeds with presenting some useful
strategies and tools that helped them during
their election. To illustrate this, the present
section refers also to the case studies of the
two parliamentarians used in this assessment
as evidence (annex II).
The present section provides the outcome of
the needs assessed during the interviews. The
first part sets out the needs expressed by the
members of the PCs in the five governorates,
and the second part presents the needs of
Table 12 portrays the policies that are required
to support women candidates in combating
various barriers, and promote their role in
political participation and representation. It
provides the suggestions for the various actors
to address policy needs.
Based on the findings of the present study and
to ensure an enhanced and sustained women’s
political participation, all identified barriers and
suggested mechanisms need to be addressed
in an integrated manner. Accordingly, the
present section proposes the following