London, United Kingdom (uk.gov.krd) Every year the KRG UK Representation marks the International Women’s Day to recognise the progress that has been made and also discuss innovative mechanism to advance gender equality. This year the KRG UK Representation held a virtual webinar and brought together a range of inspiring women in senior positions and key businesses in Kurdistan and abroad to debate gender equality and women empowerment in all spheres of life.
The Kurdistan Regional government High Representative to the United Kingdom, Mr Karwan Jamal Tahir extend best wishes to all women around the world. High Representative Karwan said: “We are placing a high priority on promoting equality and human rights to protect individuals’ rights and advance equality of opportunity for all. Our representation would very much like to create an open platform for Kurdistani women and girls to showcase their extraordinary achievements internationally and fully express their feelings and creativity, whilst also recognising the challenges they face.”
Baroness Fiona Hodgson, a longstanding campaigner on women’s issues, a Party Whip in the House of Lords and Co-chair of the APPG on Women, Peace and Security shared a message of support with the Kurdish women on the occasion of International Women’s Day. She said: “International Women’s Day gives us all the opportunity to pause and reflect on how life is for women in all our countries. I well remember my last visit to Kurdistan in 2017 when I met so many remarkable women. I know that many of them have suffered greatly and how hard it is for those who have had to flee from the terrors of war and have become displaced. Empowering women is important for societies everywhere. I hope that your event will emphasise the importance of hearing women’s voices and encouraging them to take their place in helping to find solutions to the problems being faced in Kurdistan. I wish you all a Very Happy International Women’s Day.”
The first theme of the panel discussion was addressed by Ms. Siham Jabali Mamand, a Senior Advisor at the Department of Foreign Relations (DFR) of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). On the empowerment of women in diplomacy, Ms Siham: “Irrespective of the KRG’s important steps, women’s position is still not as we expect in the field of diplomacy. The establishment of the KRG High Council of Women’s Affairs was an important step towards the prevention and eradication of violence against women and girls. We need the international community’s assistance to promote gender equality and the role of Kurdish women in the Kurdish society.”
With regards to women in Armed Conflict and Post-Conflict Situation, Tanya Gilly Khailany, a former member of the Iraqi Parliament and a Co-Founder of the SEED Foundation said: “Good developments were noted in progressing women’s role in Kurdistan, but there are still huge obstacles in front of their success.” She added: “When together with Ms Shri Talabani we established SEED organisations, we wanted to deliver a message that women are on the forefront of all the fields, and they can have big achievements which can have a big influence on the society.” She also welcomed the ratification of The Yazidi Female Survivors Law which was passed by the Iraqi parliament and signed by the president. She thanked the Kurdistani blocks at the parliament for their unity to pass that law, which would become protect the rights of all Iraqi women.
Dr. Samal Manee, an academic, author and a veteran Peshmerga who has been having an influential role in the fields of politics, philosophy, and gender equality also participated in the discussion and shared her new publication on Women and Philosophy; the Philosophy of Gender. She stated that there are many gender equality centres but lacks of adequate capability and funding. She pointed out that to drive changes in the field of gender, we need to provide training courses and also benefit from the expertise and knowledge from the diaspora community.
Additionally, Dr Fanya Ismail, CEO and founder of SGMA and one of the most innovative women in the UK who received “Women in Innovation” award 2019 by Innovate UK also took part in the webinar and shared her journey of success on how she invented a paper coating technology to replace plastic linear in coffee cups. Her innovative technology also gained her the top prize ‘Diamond’ Award at Mass Challenge Switzerland 2020, the first female to pick up the Diamond prize. Dr Fanya Ismail offered abundant advice and tips ranging from initial networking to funding and business plan creation.
With respect to Diaspora and Trans-nationality, Ruwayda Mustafah, a British-Kurdish doctoral candidate at Kingston University London and the founder of Kurdish Policy Board said: “We need to create a platform to promote gender equality, and to gather the Kurdish voices together. The Kurdish youth and women need to be put in the right direction in order to benefit from their expertise.”
The panel discussion was concluded by Q&A sessions which covered a range of long-term solutions to advance gender equality. Women undoubtedly have made significant progress on a great scale but challenges still remain and more must be done to build a truly inclusive society.
8th March 2021