Idah Muema

Senior Gender Advisor at the UNAMI

Remarks by Idah Muema, Senior Gender Adviser, UNAMI

Follow-up Civil Society Conference on Security Council Resolution 1325

26 September 2020, Baghdad

Distinguished government officials

Dr Ibtisam Aziz, Director-General, Directorate for Empowering Iraqi Women, Government of Iraq

Distinguished Civil Society Representatives,

Distinguished Guests, Colleagues and friends,

Salam Aleykum!

I wish to begin by thanking civil society organizations including the Alliance for 1325 for taking the lead in organizing this event in cooperation with the Directorate for Emfpowering Iraqi Women and for extending an invitation to UNAMI.

As UNAMI, we commend civil society organizations for the steadfast efforts undertaken and consistent engagement with government entities to work collectively towards finalizing the second National Action Plan on Security Council resolution 1325. We also commend the efforts of the Directorate of Women’s Empowerment under the leadership of Dr Ibtissam Aziz for ensuring work on women’s empowerment remains visible and prioritized.

Following the conference in February this year held in Erbil where civil society proposed several recommendations, we are pleased that the Government took into consideration those recommendations and has reflected them in the draft second national action plan on 1325. That is a positive indication that the views and concerns of civil society have been heard and that dialogue between the Government and civil society has been fruitful.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325. It’s time for all of us - governments, the international community, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders to reflect on what has been done, what remains to be done, what new challenges are impacting the women, peace and security agenda and what solutions should be applied to address them to better the lives of Iraqi women and girls.

This year, as we know, we have seen new challenges brought about by the impact of the pandemic of COVID-19, which sadly has led to an increase in cases of domestic violence. We have seen vibrant civic activism of women in the protest movements in Baghdad and the southern governorates demanding for better governance, opportunities for inclusion in the economy, and political life and better protection from gender-based violence and a more visible role in all spheres of Iraqi society. Unfortunately, we have also seen killings of women activists, abductions and threats against those who have been part of the protests.

It is essential that the vision of women from diverse groups on political, social and economic empowerment of women, decent livelihoods, including health care and education of girls and, importantly, perspectives of young women are included in the second national action plan and under the umbrella of the proposed national policy on empowering women. We should not forget women and girls from minorities who are equally essential and whose voices must also be included.

Coordination and collaboration in monitoring and reporting of the national action plan and national policy to avoid duplication is essential. We are pleased to note that the Women’ Empowerment Directorate is coordinating efforts with different entities in this area. That is commendable and should be supported.

On our part, as UNAMI, we will continue to provide the needed support as requested. We have embarked on several initiatives to support the Government and civil society efforts advance implementation of 1325. These include undertaking a research study to examine the needs and challenges of women entering politics. The findings of the research will inform the participation pillar of the national action plan as well as better position key actors to support women’s participation in political and electoral processes. Further, UNAMI is currently supporting training on leadership, mobilization and advocacy for women in various governorates including Salah Al-Din, Diwaniya, Kirkuk, Ninewa and Baghdad.

We are aware that funding for the full implementation of the first National Action Plan was a challenge. We hope that this will not be the case with the second National Action Plan and the national policy. We stress that budgetary and fiscal shortfall should not diminish the responsibility of the Government to fulfil obligations to protect and promote women’s rights. 

As UNAMI will remain steady and ready to continue supporting the Government and civil society implement the women, peace and security agenda.

I wish you fruitful deliberations.

Thank you.

About Ms. Idah Muema:

Ms. Idah Muema is the Senior Gender Advisor at the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). She has over 15 years of extensive work experience on gender, women, peace and security in conflict and post-conflict situations and working with populations directly affected by conflict. She previously worked in Kenya, Liberia, Sudan and South Sudan with NGOs and the United Nations.  

Idah has an M.A in International Policy and Diplomacy from Staffordshire University, the United Kingdom,  and a B. A in Sociology and Literature from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.