KRG UK High Representative’s Remarks on International Women’s Day

Good afternoon to our distinguished panellists and all attendees who are with us on this momentous day as we are celebrating International Women’s Day and debating the status of the Kurdish women, their role and participation in all fields of society, as well as the obstacles they face.

I am glad that today we will be hearing from several strong, dedicated and enthusiastic women with expertise in the fields of politics, diplomacy, business, security and education.

It is clear that Kurdish women have been playing a crucial role throughout history and always appeared influential in changing and shaping society.

This has been reflected in the government’s plan and strategy to place a significant importance on advancing gender equality. “Our representation would very much like to create an open platform for Kurdistani women and girls to showcase their extraordinary effort internationally and to fully express their feelings and creativity, despite the challenges they face.”

It is an honour for us to proudly state that we are embracing a set of values that we share with democratic societies and advanced countries, including democracy, the rule of law, human rights, coexistence and gender equality. We will continue to secure these values to ensure that individual members can feel safe, valued and can contribute for the good of themselves and others.

Yesterday the world witnessed the historic visit of His Holiness the Pope to the Kurdistan Region; this visit strongly symbolised the pressing need to further improve social cohesion and peaceful coexistence in and between the peoples and nations of the Middle East.

We share the common values on gender equality with our international partners. Advancing women’s rights is at the very heart of the KRG’s national agenda. While I express my profound congratulations to women in Kurdistan and worldwide, I also profoundly appraise all activists and Non-Governmental Organizations who have been playing a very influential role in protecting and promoting women’s rights.

Women in Kurdistan have made great contributions in different spheres of life.  They have been on the front lines of struggle for independence and liberty. We proudly have a woman with us today, who was a female Peshmerga during the revolution era, and now she continues the struggle at a different level.

We have strong diplomats, successful entrepreneurs and innovative women, and also women who been the voice of the survivors from the conflict zone, and also advocates for women’s rights.

At the same time, we acknowledge the hardship, violations and obstacles which the Kurdish women continue to face. This is partly, in my opinion, caused by the culture of our society, which needs to be continuously confronted. Also, women themselves, as statistics show that a substantial number of them are reluctant to engage and contribute fully in society.  

As far as the authority concerns, I confidently state that the KRG has committed itself publicly and has moral and institutional obligation to ensure women’s rights are preserved. Women’s participation in politics, economy and public life has changed dramatically. Several laws and legislations have been passed in the Kurdistan Region to tear down barriers to equal opportunities in order to build a fairer society. The Kurdistan parliament passed several landmark legislations, including the law against domestic violence, the strategy on combating violence against women and the personal status law to advance gender quality and women empowerment.

Additionally, the KRG also passed the family violence law, banning violence against women, including Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and classifying honour killing as a crime. It also developed a strategy on combating violence against women in 2012, which was prepared by the High Council for Women’s Affairs and the UN Population Fund. Besides, the female representation in Parliament has increased from 25% to 30%.

Hence on the academic level, several measures have been taken by the KRG to implement human rights education in schools and universities as education contributes to promoting equality and sustainable developments in the region. This had led to the establishment of gender equality centres across universities.

We are placing a high priority on promoting equality and human rights to protect individuals’ rights and advance equality of opportunity for all.

However, despite the positive developments we have seen, certain limitations and shortcoming still exist, but the KRG is committed to eliminate and combat them and these priorities will be fulfilled with collective efforts.

I am sure we will hear different perspectives from the panellist on the related issues of concern which we all learn and benefit from to further advance women’s rights. 

Thank you

8 March 2021