The fall of Mosul occurred the day before a meeting of women’s rights defenders from Iraqi civil society and authorities in a hotel in the outskirts of Erbil. The participants were based in Bagdad, Kirkuk and various parts of the Kurdistan Region. They are part of a network of Iraqi women’s rights defenders and government officials who have participated in Kvinna till Kvinna-organized training courses on women, peace and security and UN Security Council resolution 1325, a landmark document that stresses the role of women in conflict prevention and resolution.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the recent adoption of a national action plan by the governments in Baghdad and Erbil for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325. The action plan aims at, amongst other things, increasing participation of women in decision-making and abolishing or amending legislation that is discriminatory. It is the result of several years of sustained advocacy by Iraqi women’s rights activist. The national action plan was drawn up together with governmental stakeholders, and it is seen as a landmark for women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa region. However, having the plan agreed on and signed is just the beginning – to fully implement the plan over the next five year remains and is a big challenge for the ministries and authorities in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region as well as for their civil society partners.
However, the news of the fall of Mosul and the response by the federal government cast a dark shadow over the meeting. Many of the participants were worried about their loved ones, friends and colleagues. Some of them also feared the response of the Iraqi government to what happened, and what over-reactions would mean for all those organizations and individuals who work for peace and security across the country:
- The last speech from the prime minister is about mobilizing the people and the tribes to stand by the army, it’s about militarization, said Hasan Hadi, from the Iraqi Al-Amal Association. This will lead to destruction. Civil society and peace building can be ruined in just a few days, so now we are battling.
- We are very afraid of the future of the civil society, he continued. If there is a state of emergency, it will affect the civil society: we will not be able to meet or to gather, and there will also be effects on the media.
Participants stressed that is important to keep on pushing for a bigger role for women in conflict prevention and resolution, and the crucial role of civil society. Liza Hido from the Baghdad Women Association, one of the architects behind the national action plan and guest speaker at the meeting, called for increased collaboration:
- We need to cooperate and understand each other, we should be united as civil society says Liza Hido.