Iraq ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”) on August 13, 1986.


Upon ratification, Iraq made the following reservations:

  • Approval of and accession to this Convention shall not mean that the Republic of Iraq is bound by the provisions of article 2, paragraphs (f) and (g), of article 9, paragraphs 1 and 2, nor of article 16 of the Convention. The reservation to this last-mentioned article shall be without prejudice to the provisions of the Islamic Shariah according women rights equivalent to the rights of their spouses so as to ensure a just balance between them. Iraq also enters a reservation to article 29, paragraph 1, of this Convention with regard to the principle of international arbitration in connection with the interpretation or application of this Convention.
  • This approval in no way implies recognition of or entry into any relations with Israel.

Summary of Official CEDAW Reports:

Since its ratification of CEDAW in 1986, Iraq has submitted official reports to the CEDAW Committee (“Committee”) on two occasions. The first periodic report was submitted in May 1990 and the combined second and third reports were submitted on in October 1998.

In response to the most recent report, the Committee released comments in January 2000 regarding Iraq’s progress in implementing CEDAW as well as the areas of concerns. The Committee expressed appreciation for Iraq’s submission of written replies to the Committee’s questions and its willingness to continue constructive dialogue with the Committee despite the difficult situation faced by the country.

A detailed account of progress expressed by the Committee following Iraq’s report in 1998 as follows:

  • Implemented legislative reforms, in particular with regard to the Personal Status Code, which brought about a greater degree of women’s equality with men, and the Penal Code, which now provides greater protection to women.
  • Adoption, in June 1997, a National Strategy for the Advancement of Women in implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action.
  • The establishment, in June 1997, of the high-level National Committee for the Advancement of Iraqi Women, the agency concerned with the advancement of women and consisting of representatives of ministries involved in activities of relevance to women, and of the General Federation of Iraqi Women, all of which are aimed at implementing the Convention.

A detailed account of recommendations made by the Committee following Iraq’s report in 1998 as follows:

  • Review discriminatory legislative provisions and to take measures, including temporary special measures, aimed at creating a non-discriminatory legislative and de facto environment for women.
  • Encourage a constitutional amendment which reflects fully article 1 of the Convention, and undertake a comprehensive legislative review with a view to bringing all legislation into full conformity with the Convention.
  • Put in place a mechanism to provide for the regular evaluation and qualitative and quantitative assessment of progress in the implementation of the national strategy for the advancement of women, as well as provide further information on the mandate, annual work plans and major areas of activity of the National Committee for the Advancement of Women in its next report.
  • Review its reservations to article 2, subparagraphs (f) and (g), and articles 9 and 16, in the light of the Committee’s statement on reservations, assess the justifications for those reservations and modify or withdraw them as soon as possible to ensure full implementation of the Convention.
  • Provide, in its next report a comprehensive picture with regard to violence against women in the State party, including information on legislation, statistical data on the types and incidence of violence against women and the responses to such violence by law enforcement officials, the judiciary, social workers and health-care providers.
  • Encourage and support the establishment of facilities for women victims of domestic violence, such as telephone hotlines and shelters for battered women, and to launch a zero-tolerance campaign on violence against women so as to raise awareness about the problem and the need to combat it effectively.
  • Implement awareness-raising campaigns to change stereotypical and discriminatory attitudes concerning the roles of women and girls, in addition to providing a non-discriminatory legislative basis.
  • Work towards the elimination of the practice of polygamy, in light of the Committee’s general recommendation 21 on marriage and family relations, and ensure that gender-sensitive public education campaigns at all levels create a non-discriminatory environment.
  • Condemn and eradicate honor killings and ensure that these crimes are prosecuted and punished in the same way as other homicides.
  • Introduce measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention, and especially to increase the number of women in the political sphere.
  • Strengthen efforts to eradicate illiteracy and to ensure primary and secondary education for girls by preventing school dropouts, and furthermore, broaden the educational and training opportunities for girls and young women at the secondary and tertiary levels and in technical fields.
  • Give particular attention to ensuring that girls and women have equal access to new specializations, including the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge to participate on a basis of equality with men in the labor market and in the future reconstruction of the country.
  • Ensure that women do not bear a disproportionate portion of the economic difficulties facing the country, and make sure that non-discriminatory labor legislation is in place and effectively enforced and that women’s reproductive function does not lead to discrimination against them in employment, job security and social benefits.
  • Assess the differential impact of sanctions on women and children, especially on particularly vulnerable groups of women, and to put in place measures aimed at countering such a negative impact.
  • Use resources available from programs such as the oil-for-food program in a manner that directly benefits women, including through diverting resources currently allocated for other purposes.
  • Put in place mechanisms to provide the greatest possible protection of women’s health rights, and ensure that women and children are effectively targeted so as to benefit from available resources and that such resources are not diverted to other purposes.
  • Take a holistic view of women’s health, in line with the Committee’s general recommendation 24 relating to article 12 of the Convention, and to put in place measures to ensure women’s mental and psychological well-being.
  • Provide in its next report a comprehensive picture of the situation of rural women, in particular their educational, health and employment situation, and the impact of traditions and stereotypes on their status.
  • Address the situation of disadvantaged groups of women, especially women belonging to ethnic minorities, including Kurds, Turkmens and Assyrians.
  • Respond in its next periodic report to the specific issues raised in the present concluding comments, and provide information about the mandate, functions and activities of the Human Rights Commission established within the National Assembly with regard to women’s enjoyment of their human rights. It also requests that the Government engage in a broad consultative process with women’s non-governmental organizations, including those that represent minority women, when preparing its next report.
  • Disseminate widely in Iraq the present concluding comments, in order to make the people of Iraq, and particularly government administrators and politicians, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality for women and the future steps that are required in that regard.
  • Continue to disseminate widely, and in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention and its Optional Protocol, the Committee’s general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, and the results of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.

Summary of Shadow Reports:

To date, no shadow report has been submitted regarding the progress of the implementation of CEDAW in Iraq.

Recent Updates:

On January 28, 2009, Reuters reported that, according to the Higher Independent Commission of Iraqi Elections, a total of 3,912 women had been nominated for seats in the Councils of Governorates, of which 25% are allocated to women by law.

On February 7, 2009, Al-Sharq reported that Nawal Al-Samera’i, the Iraqi Miniser of State for Women’s Affairs, had announced her resignation. Mrs. Al-Samera’I, frustrated with the Ministry’s inability to actively assist women, removed herself in protest to the Iraqi government stating that they do not need an “honorary” ministry, but rather one that serves women in all areas of life. She specifically noted the inappropriate condition in which Iraqi women are detained and imprisoned.

On February 20, 2009, the Iraqi National News Agency reported that women had won 110 out of a total of 440 seats on the Councils of 14 governorates. Women won at least one-quarter of the seats in Baghdad, Ninawa, Wasit, Diyala and Najaf.

On March 19, 2009, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq announced the conference “Still Paying the Price, Iraqi Women after Years of Wars, Sanctions and Internal Conflict” on strategies to promote women’s rights in Iraq. The conference will produce a series of recommendations to Iraq’s Government and Parliament on issues restraining women’s equality in Iraq. It aims to set a strategy to improve women’s political participation and constitutional guarantees, and to address violence against women and the general impact of the conflict in Iraq on their well-being.

%d bloggers like this: