11 Aug 2014

ACDI/VOCA - Empowering Women to Take Their Place in the Political Life of Iraq

The Vera Humanitarian Institution for Women's Development, a women-led civil society organization (CSO) in Baquba, Diyala, is spearheading efforts to improve gender equality and women’s rights in northern Iraq.  In coordination with the USAID/BPCS-supported Civic Participation Hub in Khanaqin, CSO Vera, in partnership with Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), conducted a workshop on increasing women’s electoral participation in the recent Iraqi national elections.
Aimed at empowering women, particularly marginalized women such as divorcees, widows, orphans, and poorer members of society, the workshop focused on the role of women in elections, aspects of the women’s quota system, how electoral results are determined, and, given that women represent the majority of Iraqi society, stressed the importance of their active participation in elections.
Contributing to improving communication and increasing confidence levels of women regarding citizen/government interaction and political participation, the workshop also highlighted the positive role Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) play in election awareness and monitoring. CSO Vera’s efficient planning, organization, and management of this gender-centered activity has bolstered its role in Iraqi civil society and improved its public and media outreach, strengthening CSO Vera’s growing role in Iraq’s burgeoning civil society. Expressing her appreciation for the opportunity that BPCS has offered CSOs like Vera, Ms. Etimad Rasheed CSO Vera Executive Director stated, “It is a testament to the dedication of our staff that Vera CSO was able to conduct this and other workshops based on volunteer efforts and from our own resources, thanks to the training and technical support we have received from USAID/BPCS.” 
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