Contact: Louise Filkins
Phone: 202-419-1820

WASHINGTON, DC — The Independent Women’s Forum today denounced a clearly partisan attack from the Feminist Majority Foundation, which apparently believes only left-wing groups are able to work with Iraqi women as they seek to take their rightful place in a new and free Iraq. The Feminist Majority erroneously attacked IWF’s involvement in women’s human rights and democracy issues in Iraq.

“Neither the Feminist Majority nor any other women’s organization has a monopoly on the principles and practice of democratic values or women’s international human rights,” said Michelle D. Bernard, senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum. “This attack by Eleanor Smeal and company is wholly unwarranted.”

“In transitioning nations around the world, discrimination and violence against women and girls is systematic and overtly sanctioned by the state,” Bernard maintained. “IWF is part of a global community that seeks to be a voice in ending violence and discrimination against women and girls globally. Like it or not, we are here to stay.”

“Iraqi women and those women who find themselves in post-conflict situations do not have the luxury of joining Eleanor Smeal and her brethren in their post-election Caribbean cruise,” quipped Bernard. “As Iraq takes its next step towards liberal democracy, the Independent Women’s Forum will work with Iraqi women to build a stable and democratic Iraq.”

The Independent Women’s Forum recently received a grant by the U.S. Department of State to aid in the promotion of women’s full political and economic participation in Iraq. The grant is part of the State Department’s $10 million dollar Iraqi Women’s Democracy Initiative.

IWF, in partnership with the American Islamic Congress and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, will provide leadership training, democracy education and coalition building assistance for 150 pro-democracy, Iraqi women leaders and political activists. IWF, with its partners, will implement a 12-month Women Leaders Program and Democracy Network Information and Coordination Center to provide Iraqi women with education on democracy and political advocacy and build networks of Iraqi women activists with a common agenda.