Contact: Christie Hobbs
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WASHINGTON, DC — “This is one of the most critical periods of time in the evolution of democracy and women’s human rights in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein,” said Michelle D. Bernard, senior vice president of the Independent Women’s Forum. Today, IWF hosted a delegation of Iraqi women that included Iraq’s Minister of State for Women’s Affairs, Dr. Azhar Abdul Karim Al Shakly, members of Iraq’s Constitutional Committee, Iraqi women legal experts, and women’s rights advocates.

“As the August 15 deadline for the adoption of a draft constitution approaches, it is not only critical that the rights of women are protected in Iraq’s new constitution, but that mechanisms are developed for implementing and enforcing those rights once a new constitution is approved,” Bernard continued.

The discussion centered on women’s rights and the Iraqi Constitution and was led by IWF senior vice president, Michelle D. Bernard and featured Zainab al-Suwaij, executive director of the American Islamic Congress; Carole Basri, an adjunct professor of corporate law at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law; Lisa Davis, deputy director of programs and director of the RIGHTS program at Freedom House; and Mary Larkin, director of international programs at Street Law, Inc.

“Iraqi women must not only resolve amongst themselves profound questions such as the role of women and religion in their constitution, the global community must support Iraqi women in their struggle to codify, implement, and enforce women’s human rights in their nation,” said Bernard. “In order for democratic institutions to succeed in Iraq and the Arab Middle East, women must have the constitutional right to fully participate in the political, economic, and social structures of their country,” added Bernard.

The Iraqi Parliament has until August 15 to adopt a draft constitution, which will be put to a nationwide referendum by mid-October.

Click here to read a news release about IWF’s historic Iraqi women leaders conference, held in April in Jordan.