The Founding Speech for the Conference for the Association of Women’s Will, held in Baghdad, on 3/6/2004
Translated by Z.A.A.
The conference for the Association of Women’s Will was convened to establish a unified will for all Iraqi women, after the first year of occupation, during which the Iraqi woman had incurred additional damages, in addition to what she had already suffered under wars and sanctions. The worst of these damages is psychological and social security, which has caused a major shift in her priorities in everyday life.
The head of the Arab Union for Psychologists once commented on a scene where heavily armed occupation forces, barged into an Iraqi home, and where terrified Iraqi women were screaming, and running to their husbands’ arms, stating, “Iraqi women today seek security within her clan or tribe. She has no use for the ‘women’s rights’ organisations that accompanied the rolling American tanks.”
In all honesty, the statement should be made, that women have been the first losers in the ‘camp of the defeated’, and the last to gain anything if we were to believe that the occupation would leave them any share in gains. The psychologist’s comment explains how Iraqi women have changed their life priorities, away from the concept of ‘freedom’ that Bush and his military ‘clan’ had come to implant in their minds. They ran to their husband’s tied hands, and their clan in search of security. It is the Iraqi woman’s crisis, all over again.
Change of Priorities
The main reasons that have driven us, Iraqi women, after having reaped the harvest of loss, to unify our will to encounter the challenges that come with making our reality better, are the occupation and the obstacles that it has created, the first of which is the absence of psychological, social, and national security, in addition to the challenges of unemployment, poverty, hunger in the absence of economic security, humiliation (lack of dignity that comes with occupation), as well as the absence of justice, democracy and freedom.
Therefore, we need to present our primary issues as goals that united us, regardless of differences in sex, sect, religion, or ethnicity. The goals also unite us against partisan interests, and partisan priorities which place gender equality in its lowest ranks. These goals also unite us against tribal and clannish fanaticism as well as any other form of fanaticism along these lines in which the Iraqi woman is victimized and not in an equal position of political participation.
In our belief in protecting women’s participation in creating the future of Iraq, and stemming from the necessity of this participation in establishing an advanced Iraqi society, that seeks to promote freedom, social justice, peace and prosperity, and in an effort to further emphasize the goals that are common to all Iraqi women, from social segments of society, we would like to emphasize the following common goals:
· To activate women’s roles on the political, economic, and social levels.
· To promote women’s potential and use that potential in the process of creating the future of Iraq to achieve gender equality within Iraqi society.
· To make available to women, the tools with which they can promote their position.
· To establish women’s right to work, as a means to earn income, as an undisputable right.
· To ensure women’s right to education, and to counter all obstacles that impede her utilization of this right.
· To ensure women’s civil rights as articulated in all religious scriptures (in reference to the Abrahamic religions), away from narrow-minded interpretations, and in accordance with existing interpretations which have refused all forms of discrimination against women, by establishing a legal background that provides objective conditions within which women can advance their position.
· To create a healthy democratic agenda to achieve psychological, social and political security for women.
· To support all means by which women can reach to the level of decision-making and participation in determining common policies, and the specific policies involved in their advancement.
We have confirmed that these goals unify us, and other women’s groups that have formed to counter the results of occupation, in addition to unifying us with women from all social segments of society. We therefore confirm that the main goals for this conference are the following:
· Unifying our will as Iraqi women from all colors of the spectrum, belonging to different faiths, ethnicities, and political beliefs, as long as we are united by the priorities of women’s issues.
· Creating an honest vision for the priorities of our projects.
· Finding methods by which we can turn our will into an effective force, that can exert pressure as an independent power within our society and a defined color within the colors of the Iraqi spectrum.
To Attain the Means
We have called for this conference so that women’s minds, along with the minds of the enlightened participants present, who believe in the rights of Women’s issues, can discuss, stress and agree unanimously on the necessity that this conference result in the following:
· A body that represents Women’s will, which is capable of building its own projects and programs, is interested in activating these projects and programs within the overall Iraqi development project, and also asserts the priority of Women’s issues as part of the priorities of our society’s issues.
· A coordinating committee which represents all Women’s movements and organizations –outside this body, to mobilize efforts against the opposing pull by all parties and the groups that represent them, which are influenced by interests or political priorities that impede women’s priorities’ programs, or are subjected to various pressure for different reasons, such as clan affiliations, all of which may be detrimental to the interest of women.
We hope that this women’s gathering in a founding conference paves the way to the unification of our wills and contributes to our statement to society, as well as our message for the future; one which renders us capable of active participation in creating a healthy environment for our children so that they may live in peace, prosperity, security and justice. This is their share in life, and their right in a civilization void of wars, occupation, dictatorship, fascism, and forces of oppression.
The Founding Committee
24th June 2004
Baghdad - Iraq