Baghdad-Beirut, 27 May 2021-- The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged current economic, social and healthcare systems and had a huge impact on society in general. Women have been greatly affected as a result of this pandemic due to the added socio-economic and political challenges. The pandemic also exacerbated gender inequalities and widened the existing gaps despite all the measures taken to protect them. Today, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and UN Women have launched three studies to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the economic, political and social scene on women in Iraq. Policymakers, representatives from UN entities and non-governmental organizations, authors of the studies, experts in the field of women’s empowerment from Iraq, civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations participated in the launching of the studies in Baghdad.
The three studies aim to support the Iraqi Government in increasing the effectiveness of its efforts towards implementing the gender equality and women empowerment agenda in Iraq in the context of the pandemic and beyond. The studies provide actionable recommendations and the way forward to empower Iraqi women economically, socially and increase their political participation.
“These field studies give us an overview of the pandemic’s impact on women’s political and economic participation and their ability to benefit from the social protection programmes available in Iraq,” said Mehrinaz El Awady, Leader of the Gender Justice, Population and Inclusive Development Cluster at ESCWA. “They will also help us identify ways to build a society that avails from the expertise of Iraqi women and ensures they enjoy equal rights,” she added.
Dina Zorba, UN Women Representative for Iraq & Yemen, said “the world is still suffering from the economic challenges and political instability caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Numerous studies have shown that women were mostly affected by the pandemic especially when the conditions of illness were accompanied by poverty, disability, unstable political situations, and problematic traditions imposed on women due to the gender inequalities and discrimination. As a result, women’s opportunities for social, economic and political justice have been hindered”.
The first study focuses on the “Impact of Social Protection Policies Responding to COVID-19 on Gender Equality in Iraq” and calls to develop a strategic plan to respond to crises and to include women in developing response measures and other socio-economic plans.
The second study is on “The Impact of the Conflict and the COVID-19 Pandemic on Iraqi Women’s Political Participation and Engagement in Peace Negotiations and Peacebuilding”. It recommends the engagement of women in drafting pandemic-related policies, providing governmental support for women’s organizations and ensuring women’s participation in all reconciliation and peacebuilding processes, and requires a quota for women in government and top leadership positions.
The third study aims to assess “The Impact of COVID-19 on Women’s Economic Participation in Iraq” and explores solutions to bridge the gender gap and increase women’s participation in economic activities and support women’s entrepreneurship.
About UN Women in Iraq
UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide.
One of five United Nations regional commissions, ESCWA supports inclusive and sustainable economic and social development in Arab States, and works on enhancing regional integration.
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