Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, March 31, 2006

Women’s voices from Iraq
March 31, 2006

Washington D.C – An Iraqi women’s delegation spoke to members of the media and human rights community about the situation in Iraq today at the National Press Club.

Prior to their Washington visit, during which they met with government officials to share their stories, members of the women’s delegation took part in a three-day Iraqi-U.S. Women’s Summit in New York that was sponsored by the Global Peace Initiative of Women, an international multi-faith network of women working to stimulate peace building and reconciliation efforts.

One member of the delegation, Pascal Warda, an Assyrian Kurd living in Baghdad, said, “Every time I leave my house to go out I always wonder if I will come back.” She spoke about the importance of the continuing work between the U.S. and Iraq. She also pointed out how vital it is to establish a new government step-by-step. Ms. Warda finished her testimony, saying, “On hope we will rebuild.”

Journalists in the audience asked Warda and others on the delegation panel if they wanted the U.S. to leave Iraq. One by one they answered the question:

Noha Nadhim Salin Al-Agha said Iraqis are very grateful towards the U.S. for helping Iraq. At the same time, Al-Agha said that the U.S. has misunderstood Iraqi perspectives, which has caused problems. “Today we need help and we really want to be dear friends with the U.S in the future. We are proud of you always,” Al-Agha said.

Dr. Saieb Aziz Al Gailani, the only man on the panel, had another view, saying, “There is not a problem if you stay or leave as long as you stick to your commitment, if there is no job [for the U.S. to do] you can go back,” continuing, “Now it is necessary for you to stay.” He also stated that it is important that the U.S stay for “the right reasons.”

Panelist Lamia Jamal Talabani said, “Now it is necessary for you to stay but we don’t want you to stay forever.”

Dr. Rashad Zaydan said, “Rebuild what you destroyed, then go home.”

Audience members also asked if the Iraqi delegation thought there would be a civil war, and the whole delegation was united in their answer, saying there would not be a civil war. Ms. Warda said, “We are not fanatic people in Iraq.” All of the members of the delegation said that it comes down to politics and that some Iraqi politicians are using the idea that there will be civil war to get more power. The women said that Iraq is one nation and they gave personal anecdotes of this. Talabani said – “I’m both Kurdish and Sunni and I’m married to a Shiite.”

The women were all very passionate when they discussed their situation and especially when they talked about the women and children’s situation, which was the main focus of the panel. In addition, they said that many women are highly educated in Iraq, but they need help to get into positions where they can make a difference. Explaining women’s exclusion from leadership roles in democracy building, Warda said, “The reason for the situation is due to the politics.”

A full list of delegation members, with their bios, can be found here on the website of Network: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, the organization that sponsored the trip.


Post a Comment

<< Home