Women press for more jobs in new Iraqi cabinet

Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:34pm EST
 
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By Aseel Kami

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's female lawmakers and rights advocates said they will push hard for jobs in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's unfinished cabinet, after he named only one woman to the inner circle of his new government.

The cabinet Maliki unveiled on Tuesday has 11 posts held temporarily by acting ministers, including the ministry of women's affairs which is headed for the moment by a man.

"There are really good women who could do well ... they cannot be neglected and marginalized," said Maysoon Damluji, a spokeswoman for the cross-sectarian Iraqiya political bloc.

"We hope in the coming few days there will be a response. I personally will put pressure on my bloc to fill the empty seats with women," she told Reuters, calling for peaceful protests to push for more women in government.

Iraq was a leader on women's rights in the Middle East. Women were educated as doctors in the 1930s and the first female minister was named soon after the monarchy ended in the late 1950s.

Maliki's cabinet choices, after months of squabbling among Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish political blocs, stirred immediate anger among women legislators -- who make up a quarter of parliament by law -- and rights advocates who said it was a sign of regression for a nation trying to establish democracy. Women led four ministries in the previous cabinet.

SEXISM SLAUGHTERS DEMOCRACY

"Democracy in Iraq has been slaughtered by sexism this time, as it was slaughtered by sectarianism before," said a statement by women politicians read out by Kurdish lawmaker Alaa Talabani in parliament on Tuesday before voting on the cabinet began.   Continued...