Ask anyone about the current issues in Iraq and you will hear a multitude of answers, questions, remarks, backlash, and support for our countries involvement. Sure some things could have been done better, some things could have been avoided completely, but when you talk to someone who has personally witnessed 184 women setting themselves on fire in protest to the way men are treating them you can’t help but admire the change today. With the help of US and various foreign countries, Iraq is rebuilding itself from the ground up, repairing itself from previous dictatorship.
There are three major concerns in Iraq, political freedom (including freedom of religion), women’s rights, and better education. These issues are far from being resolved, but they have also moved far from where they were before. According to President Bush, the US is looking to help “build a government that answers to its people and honors their country’s unique heritage. ” In doing so US troops are helping train military forces and elect leaders, who interestingly enough 85 are women, this coming from a country that dismissed women’s rights.
Iyad Allawi, Iraq’s Interim Prime Minister believes “that the unity of the country will be enhanced [and] will be strengthened by the process of an election. ” The new government will consist of a 275 member Transitional National Assembly, a Presidency council, provincial councils and a Kurdistan National Assembly. Currently Iraq is working under a Interim constitution, but it is expected that the new government and permanent constitution should be in the works by the end of 2005. Women in Iraq right this moment are creating landmark organizations for their equality.
The organization of women’s freedom in Iraq (OWFI) has three main focuses, to establish women’s community centers, media and communications programs, as well as shelters specifically for women. The OWFI women’s centers bring women together from the wider community in order to strengthen women’s self esteem and leadership capacities as well as raise awareness about women’s rights. The media and communications program supports Al Mousawat, the most outspoken women’s rights newspaper in the country. In 2005, OWFI hopes to double Al Mousawat’s readership and production frequency as well as develop both radio and TV programs.
All these media are intended to create social and political platforms for informing communities about the situation of women in Iraq and strategic opportunities for change (such as during the drafting of legislation). In addition to encouraging women to take active political and social roles these communication tools also inform women about activities of the OWFI centers and shelters. The women’s shelters protect women from violence and provide a critically needed safe haven from some of the most heinous forms of gender-based violence known as honour killings.
The shelters also provide strength and security to women on their path to building self esteem and empowerment. Women who leave the shelters often stay in close communication with OWFI and its centers and become volunteers and activists for women’s rights. “The women of Iraq’s courage and resolve are hopeful examples to all who seek to restore Iraq’s place among the world’s greatest civilizations,” Bush states in a July 9 message. The World Bank recently issued their largest grant in 30 years to the Iraqi Ministry of Education.
This grant provides $40 million to print and distribute 72 million new textbooks for the 2004/2005 school year. There will be 600 titles available for the six million primary and secondary school children across Iraq. This generous grant from the World Bank is one more example of the international community pulling together to support a new Iraq. The U. S. Agency for International Development feels that renewing Iraq’s educational system is vital because Iraqi youth will determine their country’s future.
All universities are open, 5. illion Iraqi primary school students are back in the classroom, and more than 51 million new textbooks – without propaganda – are being distributed. Plus, Iraqi teachers now earn up to 25 times their salaries before liberation. The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and a multitude of civilian agencies, military units, and international agencies have coordinated work with the Ministry of Education to train more than 33,000 secondary teachers in modern classroom management and instructional delivery and rehabilitate over 2,000 schools.
According to the Economist, Iraq’s new minister of higher education, Taher al-Bakaa, has plans to usher Iraqi academics into the 21st century. He also wants to spend more of the ministry’s budget of $184m on technical programs to help rebuild the country. It’s interesting to think how the United States’ founding fathers freed themselves for freedom of various reasons, and now we are helping other nations reach their full potential of being granted human rights.
Ideally this is the way the world should work, everyone helping each other. Unfortunately we here in the US have so many rights and so much freedom that we forget that there are so many other people in the world that cant do nearly as much as we can. We can protest the war, we can bash our government for allegations, we can sit and do nothing, but the down right fact of it all is that hopefully these people will be as lucky as we are, and as happy.