The Iraqi Women Journalists Forum has held the founding conference for (“Sawtuha” network for human rights women defenders) in Baghdad, on Saturday, December 23rd. In collaboration with the governance center and the Arab union for professional women. The conference was attended by a group of journalists, academic figures, intellectuals and representatives of civil community organizations from all Iraqi regions. The opening of the conference that was managed by the journalist Ann Salah, started with the national hymn, followed by the speech of the founding body of the network, presented by our colleague Lamyaa Al-Amery on the behalf of Mrs. Nibras Al-Mamouri the president of the Iraqi women journalists forum, in which she stated: “The forum has had a great role in the campaigns defending women rights, especially standing against the legislation of laws that go against the good of women and society, in addition to standing in the way of negative issues”, Al-Amery also added “the idea of “Sawtuha” has emerged due to the extinguished work done by the Iraqi women journalists forum(iwjf) and the efforts made by the president of the forum, Mrs. Al-Mamouri in taking advantage of all what has been presented during seminars and workshops held inside and outside the forum, and her pursuing the necessity of uniting the voices of all women civil community organizations from north to south”.
The speech of the governance center for public politics has been presented by lawyer Rajaa Abd Ali in which she presented the activities of the civil society and the major transformations that it has undergone due to the surrounding changes especially in the human rights area and the importance of networking and group work in serving the issues of women rights and human rights. She also added: “The main goal of the network is using the organizations grouped under the tent of the network as a pressing work against any violation of human rights, in addition to spotting the violations against the advocates and activists, and protecting the victims of human rights violations.
Following that, Mrs. Fatina Baban presented her speech on behalf of the Arab specialist women union, in which she praised the efforts presented by the Iraqi Women Journalists Forum(iwjf) and its president for taking this important step in the field of human rights, and ensured that the Arab specialist women union will always be supporting to women issues.
The conference discussed three main issues that will outline the path according to which the network will operate during the upcoming year, and about that, Dr. Bushra Al-Obaidi presented her paper on “The marriage of minors and the legal, social, religious and medical impacts on it”, where she explained the indirect impact of the disadvantages of adjusting the law of personal status on women and them being in the position of decision making, she also compared between the executed law and the adjustment project concerning children custody and inheritance, and the effect of this project in sustaining the denominational identity instead of the national identity. In closing of her paper, Dr. Al-Obaidi stated that in case this law gets passed, Iraq will lose its international status in the field of human rights and increase the numbers of divorced women and uneducated girls resulting in weakening the woman’s ability in political and social participation.
The academic figure and former minister, Dr. Bushra Zueini demonstrated her research about “The impact of elections on women and the present chances in them reaching decision making positions”, in which she stated that women’s nomination for elections isn’t a simple task due to them facing many challenges, such as the political block not believing in women issues, the blackmail that the woman candidate may face, in addition to social and clan difficulties. She pressed that the law of parties included no clear and explicit article that ensures women’s representation in accordance with international pacts and agreements, she also explained that altering the elections law leads to dividing each province into numerous election districts, which in turn offers the female candidate to move more effectively.
This was followed by the member of Iraqi Women Journalists Forum Mrs. Intikhab Al-Kaissi’s paper on “The Iraqi woman in media.. the image and work between reality and challenges”, in which she mentioned the most prominent issues and challenges facing the female journalist in Iraq, and the role of the forum in forming a specialized consultation team aimed for developing the forum’s study about the representation of women in Iraqi media to become a gateway towards establishing a gender media strategy, and indicated the most important results of the study that had been held the past year on 200 random samples in Baghdad, and a group of recommendations from this study, in addition to the demanded actions from the Iraqi government, the civil society organizations and the Arab states league in changing the typical image of women in media, and giving them the rightful chance to play their role in media.
The audience participated in asking the researchers questions about their studies, emphasizing on the necessity of putting an end to underage marriage, the role of the religious speech in distorting the woman’s image in the world, family abuse, enabling women in media field and women’s sport journalism and its role in sports leagues.
The closing of the conference included announcing the foundation of “Sawtuha”, by reading the declaration of the founding by Dr. Woroud Naji, the member of the forum’s advisory panel, after which over 90 organizations from Baghdad, the provinces and Kurdistan region joining the network