Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Campaigning for the Iraqi parliamentary elections, scheduled for April 30, will begin in just a few days. This election is seeing the widest participation by women to date—there are almost 3,000 female candidates, all of whom are promising changes in Iraqi life and to compete with men in the political sphere.
One of the candidates, Tadamun Abdel Hussein, 44, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I was nominated by my party [the Communist Party], and I want to find real solutions to the suffering of women, children and families in general after years of being left out or only used for propaganda purposes by candidates at the start of each round of elections.”
On her expectations on the level of participation and whether men or women would be preferred in the upcoming elections she said: “I expect great participation. There is a desire for change, since people have become bored with the old faces and voices who have done nothing. I expect people to choose more women, particularly because many of them are educated and well-known civil activists in the country.”
She added: “The new electoral system will ensure the rise of important names on small lists, unlike previous systems which ensured the dominance of large blocs in elections.”
In’am Abdel Majid, a television producer and presenter for many years, recently presented herself as a candidate in the forthcoming elections. She told Asharq Al-Awsat: “My friends encouraged me to be a candidate. I have it within me to serve my country and offer what I can to help in the building process . . . I have a lot to offer.”
On her chances of winning, she said: “If it happens, it will be a victory for Iraqi women so they can have a bigger role in rectifying our situation. If I lose I will stay in my job, which I love, and will present what I hope for my country from there.”
She added: “A big change will accompany these elections—particularly the female candidates, most of whom are important names. Women have a bigger role now than in any previous election. The Iraqi population is 67 percent women and never before have they been able to choose candidates from their own gender to represent them.”
Civil activist Shorouq Al-Abayiji said: “It is absolutely a woman’s right to enter elections, for everyone to back her and [for her] to have an active role, particularly [those women who are] academics, professionals, journalists and civil activists. They need to be prominent in politics and say their piece to change the situations [in which women] suffer. Now is the time for change.”
Educator Niran Hamid, another candidate, said: “The political system in Iraq is still immature despite the years of change since 2003. Women, especially educated and competent women, must enter politics in order to bring about change for the benefit of families and society at large.”
Hamid said she was pleased with those she will be competing against in the election, and hopes they win as “they are women with excellent reputations.”
The Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq has confirmed its support for female participation in elections and provided facilities for them.
Miqdad Al-Sharifi, the president of the Constituent Department for Elections, told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We have asked that at least 25 percent of the candidates on electoral lists are women, in addition to the facilities to help them obtain positive assurances from individuals and groups.
Sharifi said he expected “great participation due to the demand from women to elect people who represent them, once their demand for candidates with good records and academic achievements are met. There are 2,690 female candidates.”