For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 

Diana Duarte, Media Coordinator
Phone: +1 212 627 0444

Quotas in Upcoming Elections in Iraq to Place Women in Local Government Positions

WASHINGTON - WHAT: On Saturday, January 31, Iraq will hold its first
elections since 2005, also marking the first time that provincial
councils will guarantee seats for female candidates.  As increasing
levels of violence in Iraq have jeopardized women's lives, particularly
in cities like Basra, a law that reserves 25 percent of seats for women
in provincial councils may present new challenges and opportunities. 

Many critics have pointed out that the imposition of quotas does not
guarantee that women who fill political positions will be sufficiently
empowered to impact decision-making, nor does mandating the presence of
women in government ensure that those women elected will work to
advance a women's human rights agenda.

WHO: Houzan Mahmoud is available for comment.  She is the International Representative of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI)
and Editor in Chief of Equal Rights Now, a publication of OWFI.  Ms.
Mahmoud speaks internationally on behalf of OWFI about the impact of
the US occupation and Islamic fundamentalism on women's human rights
and women's daily lives. Her analysis has been published by The
Guardian and The Independent, and she has been a featured commentator
on BBC, CNN, NBC, and other international media outlets. Ms. Mahmoud
received a death threat on February 26, 2007 from the notoriously
brutal jihadist group, Ansar al-Islam. Originally from Iraqi Kurdistan,
Ms. Mahmoud is based in London.


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MADRE is an international women’s human rights organization that partners with community-based women’s groups to advance women’s human rights, challenge injustice and create social change in contexts of war, conflict, disaster and their aftermath. MADRE advocates for a world in which all people enjoy individual and collective human rights; natural resources are shared equitably and sustainably; women participate effectively in all aspects of society; and all people have a meaningful say in policies that affect their lives. For more information about MADRE, visit

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