Iraq’s Women’s Affairs Minister Withdraws her Resignation after Pledges of Aid

March 11th, 2009 - by admin

Sinan Saleheddin / Associated Press – 2009-03-11 23:04:58

BAGHDAD (March 9, 2009) — Iraq’s state minister for women’s affairs said Monday she plans to withdraw her resignation after receiving pledges from aid organizations to help improve women’s lives.

Nawal al-Samarraie quit last month to protest the lack of resources for women, accusing the government of not making women’s needs a priority.

But the Sunni activist decided to return to her job after getting pledges for funds and support from international aid organizations. She also said more than 50 Iraqi women have offered to volunteer to implement the ministry’s plans.

“The reason for my resignation was the lack of funds and human resources, but with the new situation I think I can work,” she said in a telephone interview.

Al-Samarraie said she will present her request to be reinstated Tuesday to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s office. The office could not immediately be reached for comment on whether it would accept her request.

Women face overwhelming hardships in Iraq, with tens of thousands of them left poor or widowed by war.

Oxfam, a British based charity, said Sunday that the situation has only worsened for many Iraqi women since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion despite security gains over the past year and a half.

A study released by the group showed that the overwhelming majority of the 1,700 women interviewed did not have sufficient access to electricity or drinking water, and 75 percent of the widows were not receiving the government aid they are owed.

All Iraqis have undergone difficulties, but women face the additional danger of being sidelined and unable to get jobs in a male-dominated society. Widows in Iraq, for example, traditionally move in with their extended families, but many families find it increasingly difficult to care for them.

Other problems for women include homelessness, domestic violence and the random detention of women caught up in U.S.-Iraqi military sweeps.

Critics say the Iraqi government has failed to address the needs of women as part of its efforts to rebuild the country.

Al-Maliki was to leave Tuesday for Australia with a delegation including high-level officials from the political and economic fields as part of his bid to attract international investment.
The aim of the prime minister’s visit is to boost bilateral relations and agricultural cooperation, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

Al-Dabbagh said al-Maliki also would travel to Russia and Britain but no dates have been set.

Iraqi security forces, meanwhile, faced more violence a day after the U.S. military said about 12,000 U.S. soldiers and 4,000 British forces will leave Iraq by September in the first significant drawdown under President Barack Obama’s pledge to end America’s combat role here.

Gunmen opened fire on a police checkpoint in the northern city of Mosul, killing two officers and wounding a civilian, police said.

A policeman also was killed and two others wounded when an explosives-laden bicycle left near a police station exploded in Mishada, 20 miles (30 kilometers) north of the capital.

Associated Press writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

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